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Arno Clement Gaebelein

In the Public Domain

                   The First Epistle to the Corinthians


     The two Epistles addressed to the Corinthians follow, in our New
Testament, the Epistle to the Romans. A more logical arrangement would be
to put the Epistle to the Galatians next to Romans, for the Galatian
Epistle contains the defense of the Gospel and its message is closely
linked with the truths unfolded in Romans. Ephesians and Colossians lead
upon still higher ground, and if the arrangement of the Pauline Epistles is
to be made according to progressive revelation, these two documents should
follow the Epistle to the Galatians. While Romans, Galatians, Ephesians and
Colossians are preeminently doctrinal Epistles, the Epistles to the
Corinthians, while not excluding Christian doctrines, are more of a
practical character, dealing with very grave and serious conditions which
had arisen in the church at Corinth.

                           The Church at Corinth

     Corinth was one of the foremost Grecian '''' cities, the capital of
the Province of Achaia. The Roman proconsul resided there (Acts 18:12).
Corinth had a very excellent situation, which gave to the city commercially
a great advantage and was therefore known for its vast commerce and great
wealth. Its large population had a cosmopolitan character, thousands of
traders and mariners of all nations visited the far-famed city. Greek
civilization flourished here in all its branches. The fine arts were
cultivated, athletic games as well as schools of philosophy and rhetoric
flourished in this proud city. But the worst feature was an open and very
gross licentiousness. The whole city was steeped in immoralities of various
kind. Drunkenness, gluttony, and above all religiously licensed
prostitution were in Corinth at its worst. The Greek worship of Aphrodite
was of the most degraded nature. So great was the moral corruption that the
Greek word "Corinthiazesthai," which means "to live like a Corinthian," had
become a byword of shame and vileness among the profligate heathen of that
time. The horrible picture of vileness as given in the Epistle to the
Romans (chapter 1), written by the Apostle in Corinth, describes some of
these moral conditions prevailing in Corinth. It has well been said, "The
geographical position of Corinth was its weal and its woe."

     The Apostle Paul had been in Athens first and then came to Corinth
(Acts 18:1). While the origin of the church in Rome is obscure, we know
that the Corinthian assembly was founded by the Apostle. The record of it
we find in Acts 18. He labored there under great blessing for a year and
six months. Jews and Gentiles were saved, among the former was Crispus, the
chief ruler of the synagogue. But the majority of those who believed were
Gentiles, and these belonged to the poorer classes (1 Corinthians 1:26)
with at least two exceptions, Erastus ,the chamberlain of the city, and
Gaius, a wealthy man, whom Paul had baptized. The historical account of
Paul's ministry in Corinth and what happened there should be carefully
read, for it throws light upon the Epistles he sent to that church.

     What he preached in that wealthy and wicked city, boasting of culture
and much learning, filled with an arrogant pride, we learn from his own
words in the first Epistle. "And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came
not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the
testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save
Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (2:1-2). He was greatly pressed in spirit
while there (Acts 18:5), yea, in fear and trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3). He
knew this was one of Satan's strongholds. But God stood by His servant, and
while his preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, it was in
the demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Corinthians 2:4).

     Both Epistles reveal the deplorable state of the Corinthians and these
conditions called forth through the energy of the Holy Spirit this first
Epistle. The evil things which had sprung up among the Corinthians had been
reported to the Apostle. The house of Chloe (chapter 1:11) is mentioned, as
informing him about the contentious spirit which was manifesting itself.
Probably from the same source as well as from others, he heard even of
worse things which were making headway among the believers. Gross
immorality was being tolerated in their midst; lawsuits of Christians were
being submitted to courts over which pagan judges presided; they had
degraded the blessed memorial feast, the Lord's supper, on account of which
some had been dealt with by the Lord. Then there were other matters, such
as disorder in public worship, abuse of certain gifts, the forwardness of
women. Controversies must have also agitated the Corinthian assembly about
the marriage state, certain church matters, such as collections. the
exercise of gifts, etc. They had not been brought up Christians, and had
everything to learn. This fully explains the character of this first

                  When and Where Was the Epistle Written?

     Attempts have been made to question the authenticity of the First
Corinthian Epistle. They have not, however, been successful. Testimonies to
the authorship of this document are found in the writings of Clement of
Rome, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and others.
Dean Alford states, "As far as I am aware, the authorship of the First
Epistle to the Corinthians has never been doubted by any critic of note.
Indeed, he who would do so must be prepared to dispute the historical truth
of the character of St. Paul." The Epistle itself answers our question
concerning the place and the time when it was written by the Apostle.  The
statement at the close of the Epistle, printed in some editions of the
Bible "written from Philippi," is incorrect. In chapter 16:8 we read the
writer's statement, "But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost." The
Apostle Paul was therefore in Ephesus and intended to leave about
Pentecost. The Book of Acts shows that he left that city about the time of
Pentecost in the year 57. It is quite certain that this first Epistle to
the Corinthians was written during the first part of the year 57, probably
around the time of Easter. (See 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).  From Acts 19:22 we
learn that the Apostle, while still in Ephesus, had sent Timotheus and
Erastus to Macedonia.  He had given commission to Timotheus to go to
Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10).  No doubt Timotheus was to prepare the
way for the visit of the Apostle (1 Corinthians 4:17-19). In all
probability the Epistle was taken to Corinth by Stephanas, Fortunatus and
Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17).

     But are the two Corinthian Epistles the only epistles Paul wrote to
them? In chapter 5:9 Paul says: "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to
company with fornicators." From this we learn that he had written them a
previous letter. Commentators have spoken of this letter as a lost epistle.
If it was an inspired document, like these two Epistles and the other
Pauline Epistles, it would certainly have been preserved. But the Apostle
also wrote letters which were not meant to form parts of the Word of God,
which were not inspired, as Romans, Ephesians and the other epistles are.
The Epistle therefore mentioned in chapter 5:9 was a private letter of the

                      Important and Practical Truths

     The church, constituting the fellowship of the Saints on earth, its
place and testimony in the world; the church, its order, membership,
spiritual gifts and manifestations, discipline and other important matters,
are the truths dealt with in this first Epistle. Then, after the church is
viewed as on earth, as His witness, the great truth of the resurrection of
the body is made known as well as the fact that when the Lord comes "we
shall not all sleep, but shall be changed in a moment." This puts before us
the blessed hope, the great consummation, when the church will leave this
earthly scene of conflict and failure and become, according to promise, the
glorious church.

     All about us in the professing church manifests the fullest failure
and ruin. The evils which were in the Corinthian church such as
sectarianism, self-indulgence and worldliness have become the prominent
features of the institution which claims to be the church. For the true
believer whose aim it is to be obedient to the Lord in all things, this
Epistle has a message and shows him the way which he can follow, though
failure and confusion is about him.

                     The Division of First Corinthians

     On account of the different topics and questions treated of in this
epistle, a division into well defined sections is rather difficult to make.
The epistle is a church epistle, dealing throughout with matters concerning
the church. A careful reading of the epistle will disclose the fact that
first, the church is viewed as the temple of God indwelt by His Spirit. As
such the church is in the world, though not of the world, and is called to
be separated from the world and all its wisdom. The world is hostile to the
church; the activities of the enemy of the truth, through the wisdom of
this world and the lusts of the flesh are learned from the state of the
church in Corinth. The church and her relation to the world, and the
testimony for Christ, the church is to give and to maintain in the world,
are unfolded in the first ten chapters of this epistle. After that, the
church is viewed as the body of Christ. In chapter 11-14 no more mention is
made of the world and the believer's conduct in the world. We are
introduced to church order, the activities of the church, the body and its
members, the ministries and the exercise of the different gifts, bestowed
upon the body. Then follows the great chapter which deals with
resurrection. The doctrine of resurrection is unfolded in chapter 15;
first, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself the head
of the body, and also the resurrection and translation of His people. The
glorious destiny of the church is therefore revealed at the close of the
epistle. The concluding chapter contains an instruction concerning
collection and the greetings. This brief survey of the epistle, showing its
scope, gives us three main divisions:


     1. What Grace Has Done and the Assurance which Grace Gives.
        Chapter 1:1-9.
     2. Contrasts. Chapter 1:10-4.
     3. Corinthian Failures. Chapters 5-6.
     4. Concerning the Relationship of Man and Woman. Chapter 7.
     5. Concerning Meats Offered to Idols. Liberty Governed by Love.
        Chapter 8.
     6. Paul's Gracious Example. Chapter 9.
     7. Concluding Warnings and Exhortations. Chapter 10.


     1. The Headship of Christ and of Man. The Lords Supper. Chapter 11.
     2. The Body and the Members of the Body. Chapter 12.
     3. The Need and Superiority of Love. Chapter 13.
     4. Prophecy and Speaking with Tongues. Chapter 14.

       CHAPTERS 15-16

     1. The Doctrine of Resurrection and the Hope of the Church.
        Chapter 15.
     2. Instruction and Greetings. Chapter 16.

                         Analysis and Annotations


     1. What Grace has Done and the Assurance Grace Gives. 1:1-9.

     In the opening verse of this epistle the Apostle Paul associates with
himself the name of Sosthenes. There can be little doubt that he is the
same Sosthenes mentioned in Acts 18:17. Like the great apostle he was once
"a persecutor and injurious." The experience through which he passed, when,
as an enemy of Christ he received the deserved beating, was instrumental to
bring him to Christ. When he was the chief ruler of the synagogue he was an
enemy, but now through the grace of God he had become "a brother beloved."
It was to call to the remembrance of the sadly drifting Corinthians the
former days, as well as the power of God in salvation. Then Paul addresses
them as "the church of God which is at Corinth"; and this church of God is
composed of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called Saints. All
believers are set apart to God in Christ. Grace has constituted them
Saints; but with the gifts grace bestows, there also goes the
responsibility of manifesting that separation from the world, from which
the church is called out. To the Saints, true believers, sanctified in
Christ, set apart to God, the epistle is addressed. Then follows another
sentence, which goes beyond the church at Corinth. "With all that in every
place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."
Thus the true circle of fellowship was laid down, for every local church to
observe. As we shall find later in this epistle, the party spirit,
sectarianism, was manifesting itself in Corinth and these words of address
may be looked upon as a protest against that unchristian spirit. All who
acknowledge Christ as Lord and call upon His name belong to the church. He
is their Lord as He is our Lord. Furthermore we learn from these words that
the messages of this epistle are for God's people at all times. "In every
place" means every place where believers are found today. The truths
unfolded, the exhortations given, have therefore a universal application;
they are the commandments of the Lord to all His people (14:37).

     Before the Apostle begins to mention the evils which the Corinthian
assembly tolerated and which burdened his spirit, he speaks first of all of
the grace of God given to them by Jesus Christ. They had been saved and
were enriched by Him. The truth they had received, they also communicated
"in all utterance and knowledge" to others. They had all the gifts in their
midst, and were waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Grace
had bestowed all these gifts, and yet they failed to manifest His grace. In
possession of such grace and the gifts of grace, they should have walked in
humility and should have lived soberly, righteously and godly. But they
were walking in an evil way.

     The Apostle knew all the evil which was among them as an assembly (and
more so did the Holy Spirit know), but before he uncovers their condition,
he gives a most precious assurance. He speaks of the faithfulness of God,
who had called them into that wonderful fellowship of His Son, Jesus
Christ. God is faithful! He reckons on God's faithfulness to do in the end
all for them which He had promised, so that they would be blameless in the
day of the lord Jesus Christ. God does not repent of His gifts and calling.
The same assurance is found in other epistles. "And the very God of peace
sanctify you wholly, and your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved
blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that
calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23--24). Such a loving
and gracious assurance to those who are called according to His purpose,
that He is faithful and will bring it about that His people shall be
blameless in that coming day of Christ, leads to self-judgment and

     2. Contrasts. Chapter 1:10-4).

                             CHAPTER 1:10-31.

     1. Divisions rebuked. (1:10-16).
     2. The Cross of Christ, the Power of God. (1:17-31).

     The section which begins, after the introductory words, with the tenth
verse and ends with the fourth chapter, shows a number of contrasts. There
is the contrast of the fact that they were called into the one fellowship.
The fact of being called into the fellowship of God's Son, as members of
the one body is contrasted with their divisions. There is the contrast of
the preaching of the cross, which is foolishness to them that perish, but
the power of God to those who are saved. The wisdom of God and the wisdom
of the world are likewise contrasted. Jews and Gentiles, what they require
and seek are seen in their contrast with those who believe. Every chapter
makes these contrasts and through them the blessed truth of the Gospel and
the walk of the Saints of God is fully brought out.

     As the introduction to the epistle reveals, all believers have one
Lord to whom they belong, and God has called all into the one fellowship,
the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. No other name is to be
owned by His people, but all must be united in that blessed name, and
obedience yielded to Him. He therefore beseeches them in that name to
present a united confession and testimony "that ye all speak the same
thing"; an unmarred fellowship in the Spirit "that there be no divisions
among you"; and such a oneness of mind and judgment which becomes those who
are one in Christ "that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind
and in the same judgment." And why this exhortation? Because those of the
house of Chloe had given to Paul the information that contentions had
arisen among them. He mentioned the source without giving the names of the
individuals. Those of the house of Chloe were no doubt deeply spiritual and
much exercised over these contentions and the dishonor done to the name of
the Lord Jesus. And these contentions, which threatened serious schisms in
the one body were connected with teachers, the chosen instruments of the
Lord. Some said, "I am of Paul"; others, "I of Apollos"; another party, "I
of Cephas." Instead of sitting at the feet of the One, who alone is worthy
and is the teacher of His people, they scattered and divided themselves
among the different teachers, given by the Lord to the church. It was the
beginning of sectarianism, which has been such a curse to the people of
God. It did not begin in the blessed assembly of Philippi, nor among the
Saints in Ephesus, but among the puffed up, worldly-minded Corinthians.
Partyism, sectarianism, is the fruit of the flesh (Galatians 5:20). How it
has multiplied in Christendom, the evil fruit it has borne, the apostasy
which is fostered by it, we need not point out, for all spiritually minded
Christians are acquainted with it.

     But a fourth party said, "I of Christ." Piously they said, we do not
acknowledge Paul, Apollos or Cephas; we call ourselves after Christ. They
made Him the head of a party, and put His teaching in contrast with the
teachings of the chosen vessels of the Lord, through whom He made known His
will. It was only a pretext to discredit the ministry of Paul and the other
Apostles. That last named contention was perhaps the worst.

     And so the inspired Apostle asks, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul
crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" Christ was
crucified for them and in His Name they had been baptized. In their
contentions they were doing wrong to the Person of Christ and to His
blessed work. And water baptism is especially mentioned by him. He thanked
God, that he had baptized none of them, but Crispus and Gaius, as well as
the household of Stephanas. Baptism has been and is a prominent source of
the division of the body of Christ. Ritualism has made of it a sacrament
which saves and none can go to heaven without it. Other sects make it
likewise a necessary act for salvation. Still others teach that
water-baptism is the appointed means by which a believer becomes a member
of the church, the body of Christ. It is not water-baptism by which a
believer becomes a member of the body of Christ; the Holy Spirit alone can
do this and does it with every believer (1 Corinthians 12:13). Others have
gone into the other extreme and reject water-baptism entirely. The Apostle
did not do this. "The solemn assumption, by the newly born believer, of the
name of Jesus as his Lord (as it is done in baptism) was an act both too
important and of too solemn and precious a significance to be regarded
lightly by an inspired Apostle." Then the Apostle states his commission. He
was not sent by His Lord to baptize. His great mission was to preach the
Gospel. "Baptism would surely follow a true reception of his testimony, but
that, with all other resulting effects, is kept distinct from the positive
and vital work of God by His own Word. We may notice a real difference
between the Apostolate of Paul and that of the eleven, as defined at the
close of Matthew. The latter were sent expressly to baptize. Paul was
not."--Pridham on Corinthians.

     Verses 17-31 unfold the Gospel which he was sent to preach, the Cross
of Christ and the power of God to salvation made known by that Cross. He
preached that Gospel "not with wisdom of words." All that was attractive to
the natural man, such as rhetoric, beautiful language, enticing words, was
avoided by the Apostle. He was "rude in speech" (2 Corinthians 11:6); he
did not preach with enticing words (1 Corinthians 2:4). He feared that in
any way the power of the Cross of Christ should be made void. He had a
complete, a perfect confidence in the Gospel and knew it needed not human
embellishment and human schemes to make it effective. All human efforts by
rhetoric, sentimental claptrap methods, aim to stir up and to direct the
emotions and sympathies of the natural man.

     The preaching of the Cross is foolishness to those that are perishing.
Unto us who are being saved it is the power of God, for it saves us from
the guilt of sins, the power of sin itself and ere long from the presence
of sin in our homegoing. And those who are perishing in rejecting the Cross
of Christ were never so numerous as today. To the "Christian
Scientist"--the Unitarian--the Destructive Critic-- the new Religionist and
others, the preaching of the Cross is foolishness. And the world with all
its boasted learning and wisdom did not think of the Gospel and its
wonderful plan and power. The nations who boasted of culture and wisdom
even in their highest form groped in the dark, and instead of discovering
how man can be saved and brought back to God, were dragged down deeper and
deeper into sin and despair. And thus God made foolish the wisdom of this
world. Therefore the men who today turn their backs upon the Gospel and
speak of philosophy, science and wisdom, turn to foolishness once more,
which will lead them into the blackness and darkness forever. The preaching
of Christ crucified was to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks
foolishness, because the Jews required a sign and the Greeks sought after
wisdom, but the Cross puts human pride and glory into the dust. And what
Jews and Greeks rejected and treated as foolishness is the power and wisdom
of God. What men considered foolishness, a crucified Christ, is therefore
wiser than men, for it gives to the believer what the wisdom of the world
cannot supply. And the "weakness of God", which is Christ crucified through
weakness, is more powerful than men; man is saved by it. Thus the charge of
Jews and Gentiles, that the cross is foolishness, that it is weakness, is
repudiated and the foolishness and weakness of man is thereby demonstrated
and laid bare.

     And that no flesh should glory in His presence, God hath chosen the
foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things to
confound the things which are mighty. He hath chosen the base things, the
despised things and the things which are not to bring to naught the things
that are. Therefore not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not
many noble are called. God in His sovereignty takes up that which is
foolish and weak to manifest His power. How fully this is evidenced by
experience. And the believer is always in the safe place, if he is in the
place of self-abasement, self-effacement and weakness. "Of Him are we in
Christ Jesus who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and
sanctification, and redemption; that according as it is written, he that
glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." It is all of God, and all in Christ,
and nothing of us or in ourselves. Christ is the wisdom of God.

     "Christ is made unto us wisdom from God; and thus with Christianity,
for faith, every cloud is lifted. The wisdom that is from God is a casket
of priceless jewels; in which the redeemed one finds, not only liberty, but
marvelous enrichment. How much is contained in just those three words,
'righteousness, sanctification and redemption!' And they are in an order of
progressive fulness, by which we enter more and more into the heart of
God."--Numerical Bible.

     Righteousness in Christ is that of which Romans so fully speaks. Our
guilt is gone. Righteousness is on our side, covering the believer. The
believer is justified by His blood and by faith in Him and fully accepted
in the Beloved. And Christ is the believer's sanctification. The work of
Christ has separated us unto God; but the believer is also sanctified by
the Spirit of God, the Spirit of holiness. In Christ we are holy and
walking in the Spirit, obedient to His Word, the believer manifests in his
conduct the fact that he is set apart to God. Redemption looks forward to
the future, when the believer shall be glorified, and be conformed to the
image of the Lord. "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus." Therefore the believer
has nothing to glory in himself, but he glories in the Lord. And all this
put to shame the Corinthians who made so much of the wisdom of this world
and were puffed up.

                                 CHAPTER 2

     1. The Apostle's Preaching. (2:1-5).
     2. The Revelation of the Spirit. (2:6-13).
     3. The Helplessness and Ignorance of the Natural Man. (2:14-16).

     The Apostle had been among them and declared unto them the testimony
of God. This he had not done with excellency of speech or wisdom. He
preached unto them the Person of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He, who is
the wisdom of God, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge (Colossians 2:3), was his one theme; he determined not to know
anything among them but the Person and Work of Christ. He had not come with
a system of philosophy, to tickle their ears, but with the highest wisdom
made known by revelation. He well knew that in Christ, His blessed Person
and in His Cross all their unanswered questions, seeking for light, were
answered, and more than that, the power of God through His Spirit would be
active in their salvation. When he was with them he had a sense of
weakness; he was in fear and much trembling. It shows the deep exercise of
his soul. But he also had the special encouragement from the Lord, who
spoke to him by a vision (Acts 18:9-10). He avoided all human eloquence, to
which the Corinthians were specially given and attracted, so as not to
flatter them. And therefore the Spirit of God manifested power; his
preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Their faith, as
a result, rested not on the beautiful, persuasive and eloquent words of a
man, but on the power of God. Here is the pattern for every preacher of the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. What unworthy methods are used in our day by some
professional evangelists! What sentimental trash is preached by those who
are men-pleasers and under the guise of Gospel-preaching aim at their own
popularity! "For just so far as preachers fill men with admiration for
their peculiar style of thought or language, is it evident they are weak in
the Spirit, and attract to themselves instead of clearing and establishing
souls in the truth whereby the Spirit works in power."--W. Kelly.

     Among them that are perfect he spoke wisdom. The perfect are those who
have believed the Gospel, experienced its power and are in Christ, accepted
in the perfect One; they know the truth as it is in Christ. But the wisdom
Paul spoke was not the wisdom of the world (literally: age), but God's
wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom ordained by God before the world
unto our glory. And what is this hidden wisdom, God's wisdom in a mystery
which Paul preached to those who had accepted Christ? It is more than
Christ crucified. It is Christ glorified, seated at the right hand of God,
given as head over all things to the church which is His body. This wisdom
of God in a mystery (but now made known) is fully revealed in the Epistle
to the Ephesians. It was unrevealed in the Old Testament. The rulers of
this age did not know it, for had they known the wonderful wisdom of God
they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But the very deed they
committed (ignorantly as Peter declared, Acts 3:17) fulfilled the
Scriptures, and the Lord of Glory whom they crucified is now the glorified
Man filling the throne of God, and believers are one with Him. This is the
manifold wisdom of God which is made known by the church (Christ as
glorified head and the church His body) to the principalities and powers in
heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10).

     Interesting is the quotation from Isaiah 64:4. The prophet speaks of
the inability of man to know what God hath prepared in His infinite grace
and love for them that love Him. It was hidden from the Prophet. None of
them beheld the great truths of the Church as the body of Christ nor the
glory connected with it. But now this is changed. God hath revealed it
through His Spirit. The Spirit has come and He has made known the hidden
wisdom of God. Through Him and His blessed testimony in the Word we know
"the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." And these
things are in Christ. The church is going to share with Him the glory which
He has received. And the Spirit in the believer is searching all things,
yea, the deep things of God. So the Spirit of God Himself leads the child
of God deeper and deeper into this wisdom of God. The more we learn of it,
the more we enter into the deep things in blessed fellowship with the
Father and the Son, the more we desire to know. This should be for the
child of God, the greatest thing--the Spirit in him searching out the deep
things of God. The excuse some Christians make of their inability to grasp
certain truths, when they say "it is too deep for me," dishonors the
indwelling Spirit. For our poor, little minds all is "too deep;" but not
for the Spirit of God.

     The things of God cannot be known, save by the Spirit of God. This
blessed gift is bestowed upon the believer, so that he can know the things
which are freely given to him of God. And these deep and spiritual
revelations were transmitted by chosen instruments. "Which things also we
speak, not in the words which mans wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy
Spirit teacheth, comparing (or communicating) spiritual things with
spiritual" (Verse 13). Here is a definition of verbal inspiration. The
thoughts and revelations of God have been given to us through human
instruments, in the words which the Spirit teacheth. We have therefore an
inerrant Bible.

     A contrast between the natural (psychical) man and the spiritual man
concludes this chapter. The natural man, no matter what his mental
attainments are, cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. He must be
born again and receive the Spirit before he can discern spiritual things.
Why do men criticize the Bible, reject its great Truths, ignorant in
spiritual things, though learned in the wisdom of the world? They are
natural men, not having the Spirit (Jude verse 19).

                                 CHAPTER 3

     1. The Carnal state of the Corinthians. (3:1-9).
     2. The Workmen and their Work. (3:10-15).
     3. The Church the Temple of God. (3:16-17).
     4. Warning against Deception and Glorying in Men. (3:18-23).

     Their condition is next uncovered. They did not depend on the Spirit
of God and did not enjoy the hidden wisdom and walk in it. They were
carnal, mere babes in Christ, in the sense that their growth, their
spiritual development had been arrested. Carnal (fleshly) is not equivalent
to "natural." The believer is no longer a natural man, for he is born
again. Carnal describes a condition in which the believer walks when he is
not subject to the Spirit of God, but is led and governed by natural
instincts and motions. Such was their condition. What was merely of man;
wisdom, learning, intellect, eloquence and other things, were highly
esteemed by them. They were wise in their own conceits and gloried in men.
They delighted in and longed for that which is of man, and admired it,
therefore the real spiritual truths communicated by the Spirit were unknown
to them.

     The evidence that they walked not according to the Spirit and the
wisdom of God, was the strife and factions which existed among them. They
were carnal and walked according to man. This party spirit among them had
its source not in the Spirit Of God, but in the flesh. In it, not the Lord
was glorified, but man was exalted. They were more occupied with Paul and
Apollos, their persons and talents, than with the Lord Jesus Christ. In
this way sectarianism began, as the fruit of the flesh. And the remedy for
it is "seeing no man but Jesus only." If the Lord Jesus Christ is owned in
His glory, and union with Him is enjoyed, then the carnal condition ends
and the believer walks in the Spirit and glories no longer in man. Paul and
Apollos were but servants by whom they had believed. It is true Paul
planted; Apollos coming after him, watered, but God gave the increase. God
is all. And any man, whether he planteth or watereth, shall receive his own
reward according to his own labor. They were God's fellow-workmen and the
Saints are God's husbandry (tillage), God's building. And so all true
servants of the Lord, though differing in gifts, are one in this that they
are instruments in God's hand.

     Next (verses 10-15), God's fellow-workmen and their work is considered
in view of the time "when each shall receive his own reward according to
his own labor." Paul here calls himself a wise master-builder (an
architect). It was not of himself. He did not plan the great building, the
church, but it was according to the grace bestowed upon him. The Lord had
chosen him for that. The mystery concerning the church which was hidden in
former ages, had been made known to him by revelation. Laboring in Corinth,
by preaching the Gospel, he was used by the will and the grace of God to
establish the church there. The foundation was laid by him in sound
doctrine, according to the revelation given to him. But neither Paul nor
Peter nor any other man is the foundation upon which the building rests ;
there is but one foundation, Jesus Christ, the Son Of God. The church is
"built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ
Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed
together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:20-21). The
foundation is laid, but the question is what fellow-workmen are going to
build upon this one foundation.

     Those who are not at all building upon the one foundation, Jesus
Christ the Son of God, are of course, not considered. (The different
anti-Christian cults, like Christian Science, Spiritism, New Thought,
theosophy, etc., all lay claim to the name of Christ, but they reject Him
and belong therefore to that class who destroy the Temple of God.) Those
who own the one foundation may build upon it either gold, silver, precious
stones; or wood, hay, stubble. The first three things mentioned are
precious and durable; the other three things are worthless and perishable.
Gold, silver and precious stones are the fit adornment of the church as the
temple of God, but wood, hay and stubble are worthless material fit not for
a temple, but for a mud hovel. Gold, silver and precious stones typify the
service of the workman which is of faith, done in obedience to the Word and
manifesting the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, while wood, hay and
stubble represent what is not of faith, the work and service done in
self-will, exalting man instead of the Lord, and therefore disfiguring the
temple of God.

     The workman whose aim is to please God and not man, whose one ambition
is to exalt Christ in all his service, who labors for the perfecting of the
Saints, the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12), builds that
which is durable and which can never perish. The workman who pleases men,
seeks the applause of man, uses the means and schemes of the world to carry
on what is called "Christian work" and in it all is not obedient to the
Word of God, builds that which is worthless and his work will perish.

     A day is coming in which each man's work shall be made manifest. The
day is the day of Christ when all believers shall appear before the
judgment seat of Christ. He is a consuming fire; and before Him whatever is
of man and not of Himself will be burned up. That fire shall try every
man's (who is a believer saved by grace) work of what sort it is. Then
those who toiled in an unostentatious way, who built upon the one
foundation that which glorifies Him, whose work was done in faith, shall
find that their work abides and they will receive their own reward. The
others will see all their work go up in smoke. They shall suffer loss.
There is no reward for them. They shall be saved, yet so as by fire. Like
Lot who escaped out of Sodom; but all that he had wrought in Sodom, his
righteous soul being vexed, was burned up. But the salvation the believer
has is independent of his service and work. Every believer will be saved
and live, though what he wrought may be found in that day only fit for the

     And the building of which the Apostle speaks is the church, the temple
of God, the habitation of God through the Spirit. God's Holy Spirit is
dwelling in every member of the body. The temple of God is holy and such
are ye. Then the solemn warning "if any man destroy (not defile) the temple
of God, him shall God destroy." God's temple in which He dwells, the
church, is founded on His truth. The destruction of that temple means
therefore the denial of the truth of God or the introduction of false
doctrines; critics of the Word, who deny the fundamentals of the faith have
well been called "destructive." They are the enemies of the cross, whose
end is perdition. They are not saved as by fire, but God is going to deal
with them in an awful judgment.

     In the professing church today are uncountable numbers, who have crept
in unawares: they were never born again and therefore they work corruption
and will perish. Therefore "let no man deceive himself." The Corinthians
were setting aside the wisdom of the Spirit and were being seduced by the
wisdom of the world, which is foolishness with God. They marred the temple
of God by their carnal spirit, trusting in men and glorying in men. In
God's gracious purpose as revealed by the Spirit of God all things were
theirs. Paul, Apollos and Cephas were the chosen instruments of God for
blessing them. As believers they had all things and belong to none but
Christ and through Christ to God Himself.

                                 CHAPTER 4

     1. Servants of Christ and Stewards of the Mysteries of God. (4:1-5).
     2. Contrast Between Self-Glorification and Humiliation. (4:6-13).
     3. Admonition to Beloved Children. (4:14-21).

     Paul speaks of himself and the fellow workmen as servants of Christ
and the stewards of the mysteries of God. They were serving under Christ.
Apollos, though not an Apostle, is included by Paul. Apollos with his great
eloquence probably appealed strongly to the Corinthians and thus the party
spirit had been fostered among them. But Paul classes Apollos with himself;
he might have told the Corinthians that Apollos was not an Apostle and by
this belittle him in their eyes. All were servants of Christ to serve the
household of faith and to give meat in due season. The "mysteries of God"
are not, as claimed by ritualistic Christendom, the sacraments in their
invented "mysterious" actions. The mysteries of God are those blessed
hidden things, which were not revealed in former dispensations; but now
they are made known and the servants of Christ are the stewards of the
blessed truths of Christianity, to guard and to dispense them. And Paul who
may be called "the chief steward" of these mysteries had been judged by
them, but he expresses his independence of all their judgment. He is
responsible to the Lord although he was not aware Of anything against
himself yet he was not thereby justified, for the Lord might know
something, that he had overlooked. He then points to that day (the day of
Christ) when He comes and all His people will have to appear before the
judgment seat of Christ. Then the hidden things will come to light, the
counsels of the hearts will be manifest and each man have his praise from
God. To that day the servant of Christ, the steward of God's mysteries,
yea, every Christian, must look, and serve in anticipation of it. Then all
our acts and ways will be examined and judged by the Lord Himself. Paul
therefore declared that any judgment now was a judgment "before the time."

     And all this he wrote by the Spirit to uncover their foolishness and
to counteract their party-spirit. "That ye might learn not to go beyond the
things which are written, that no one of you be puffed up the one against
the other. For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast
not received? But, if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory, as if
thou hadst not received it?" Thus the Spirit of God exposed the folly of
the Corinthian party spirit in which they were puffed up and had lost sight
of Christ.

     Where they had drifted in their carnal spirit by glorying in men and
not in Christ is made known by the contrast between their
self-glorification, self-exaltation and self-sufficiency and the path of
humiliation, suffering and contempt, which is marked out for the true
follower of the Lord and the servant of Christ. Here is solemn food for
reflection. They were full and rich, reigned as kings, but without the
Apostles, who were blessedly sharing the sufferings of Christ and were a
spectacle unto the world, to angels and to men. By their profession the
Corinthians were waiting for the coming of the Lord, yet in His absence
they reigned as kings. They enjoyed prosperity, had all things in
abundance, they gloried in all these things while the true servants of
Christ were suffering, were in want, following in the path of His blessed
life on earth, bearing His reproach, despised and rejected by the world.
And so it is today that the professing church has fully gone the Corinthian
way; an outward profession, a seeing after the honor of men, the applause
of the world, glorying in earthly attainments, rich, increased in goods.
With it the offense of the cross has ceased. The cross which has written
the sentence of death upon the flesh, which has made the believer dead to
the world and the world dead to him; the cross, which demands separation,
self-denial, self-surrender and self-sacrifice is denied.

     And what a record of suffering and privation, persecution, reproach
and shame, the Apostle gives! The Corinthians knew nothing of that; nor
does the professing church of today. But has not the world changed since
then? Is not the age becoming better? Is not the leaven of Christianity
changing existing conditions so that the reproach of Christ ceases and
suffering is changed into worldly honor and glory? A thousand times, No!
These are the spurious claims. The world, this Present age, man's day, does
not change. The world is the same today as it was in the days of the
apostle. It is still true and will be true till the Lord comes "all that
will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecutions." The applause
and approval of the world, the recognition by the world of that which is
called "religion"--"Christian work and service," is an evidence that that
service and religion is not according to the truth of God.

     Paul sent Timothy to remind them "of my ways which are in Christ, as I
teach everywhere in every church." And he was also coming in person. He was
not afraid to visit them and meet them face to face; he would come in
power. "What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in
the spirit of meekness?" It was his loving call for them to repent and
humble themselves.

                 3.   Corinthian Failures.  Chapters 5-6.

                                 CHAPTER 5

     1. The Tolerated Case of Gross Immorality. (5:1-5).
     2. The Call to Separation. (5:6-13).

     The spiritual declension, the carnal spirit which prevailed among
them, had brought forth fruit. One of their members had committed an act of
the grossest immorality, which was an unspeakable outrage, such as was not
even named in a licentious city like Corinth, where licentiousness of life
was a broadly marked feature of society. It was a case of lawlessness and
vileness, which was unknown among the heathen. And this case was tolerated
in their midst. Instead of mourning over their sin they were puffed up and
did not put away the evil doer from the assembly. If they lacked the
personal instruction of the Apostle what to do in such a case, they should
have turned to the Lord in sorrow of heart and asked Him for guidance. But
they were indifferent. The Apostle now tells them what had to be done. He
was among them in spirit, and exercises his apostolic authority in the name
and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one to Satan for the
destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the
Lord Jesus.

     "If the enemy had succeeded in drawing aside by the flesh a member of
Christ, so that he dishonors the Lord by walking after the flesh as men of
the world do, he is put outside, and by the power of the Spirit, as then
exercised in their midst by the Apostle, delivered up to the enemy, who is
in spite of himself the servant of the purposes of God (as in the case of
Job), in order that the flesh of the Christian (which, from his failure to
reckon himself dead to sin, had brought him morally under the power of
Satan) should be physically destroyed and broken down. Thus would he be set
free from the illusions in which the flesh held him captive. His mind would
learn how to discern the difference between good and evil, to know what sin
is. The judgment of God would be realized within him, and would not be
executed upon him at that day when it would be definitely for the
condemnation of those who should undergo it. This was a great blessing!
although its form was terrible. Marvelous example of the government of God,
which uses the adversary's enmity against the saints as an instrument for
their spiritual blessing! We have such a case fully set before us in the
history of Job. Only we have here, in addition, the proof that in its
normal state, apostolic power being there, the assembly exercised this
judgment itself, having discernment by the Spirit and the authority of
Christ to do it. Moreover, whatever may be the spiritual capacity of the
assembly to wield this sword of the Lord (for this is power), her positive
and ordinary duty is stated at the end of the chapter." (Synopsis of the

     The second epistle will show us how this discipline was greatly
blessed to this wicked person upon whom this sentence was pronounced and
who was put out of fellowship with God's people. But not only was there
individual evil, but the sin affected the whole Corinthian assembly. As
Achan's sin was a curse to Israel (Joshua 7), so the leaven of this
wickedness was corrupting the whole church. Leaven is seen here once more
as a type of evil. A little leaven, a little evil allowed, leavens the
whole lump both individually and collectively. The Apostle demands that no
evil in any form, whether moral or doctrinal, is to be tolerated among
those who are Christ's. Christ is our passover Lamb sacrificed for us. In
Him all believers are constituted holy. With the passover there was
inseparably linked the feast of unleavened bread, showing that redemption
is holiness. As the Jew had to put away all leaven in eating the passover,
so the Christian must purge out all leaven and be in an unleavened
condition, in sincerity and in truth before God. Even the smallest bit of
leaven, the least deviation from the truth of God, in holding some
unscriptural doctrine, or any other evil, will, if not purged, ultimately
leaven the whole lump. Christendom today is a solemn witness to this truth.
The whole professing church is leavened by the leaven of the Pharisees
(Ritualism); the leaven of the Sadducees (Higher Criticism or infidelity);
the Corinthian leaven (vain glory and worldliness) and the Galatian leaven
(Legalism). Then follows the command, "therefore put away from among
yourselves that wicked person." Such discipline demanded by the Holy Spirit
is almost unknown today in that which professes to be the church of God. It
has been said that it is uncharitable and harsh to deal in this way with
those who are evil in doctrine or practice. It is not that, but rather a
gracious measure, to humble such an one and bring him back to the place of

                                 CHAPTER 6

     1. Concerning Disputes before Heathen Courts. (6:1-7).
     2. The Holiness of Believers; Their Bodies the Temples of the Holy
        Spirit. (6:8-20).

     Instead of settling their disputes amongst themselves, as it becomes
the Saints of God, they brought their difficulties before a heathen court.
In doing this they had lost sight of the dignity of their calling. The
Saints of God are to reign with Christ and share His glory; they shall
judge the world and angels in that day. Going to a heathen court to have
these matters settled by one who was not a child of God, but unrighteous,
was unworthy of them; they were making known their own shame before the
world. If they had remembered that coming day of glory, when as Saints they
were to participate in the judgment of the world, they would not have acted
in such a way. They would have gladly suffered wrong themselves and
permitted themselves to be defrauded instead of rushing with their
grievances before a heathen court. Matthew 18:15-18 shows the true way for
believers to settle such matters. They were doing wrong and defrauding
their own brethren. In all this they dishonored God and denied their
relationship to Him. And these Corinthian failures are today in professing
Christendom fully developed.

     The unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. He reminds them
what some of them had been in their unconverted state. They had practiced
the vile things of the flesh, which were so common in Corinth. And
connected with this there is a warning. If the little leaven was allowed to
work, if they continued in the evil ways they were following, they would
surely relapse into their former state. But even more, the Apostle reminds
them what the grace of God had done for them in saving them from such a
life. They had been translated from the power of darkness into the Kingdom
of the Son of His love. "And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but
ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and
by the Spirit of our God." The washing has nothing to do with baptism, as
some claim. Through regeneration (called in Titus 3:5, "the washing of
regeneration"), the believing sinner becomes clean every whit (John 13:10).
Then he is also sanctified in Christ, set apart unto God. And the holy
Spirit takes possession of the believer as His own temple. This is the
meaning here of "Justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit
of our God." He is the seal.

     Then the question concerning the believer's body is introduced. A
believer is no longer under the law as to meats and foods, as the Jews
were. "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not profitable." A
believer is not to be brought under the power of any of these things. He is
not in bondage to anything, but is to have perfect liberty. To be a slave
to anything, for instance, a habit, would be wrong. Meats are for the
belly; they are but temporary and will pass away. "God will bring to nought
both it (the belly) and them (the meats)." But the body itself is something
different. In the body of the believer the Holy Spirit is the abiding
guest, the divine Indweller. The body is therefore for the Lord and the
Lord for the body. The body has the promise of redemption. God, who raised
up the Lord, will also raise us up by His own power. And the bodies of
believers are members of Christ, joined to Himself by the Spirit of God.
"For he that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit." And all is in warning
against the horrible sin, which was so prominent in Corinth, fornication.
The bodies of believers belong to the Lord. They are the temples of the
Holy Spirit. Therefore we are not our own. Furthermore, all this has been
accomplished by the great redemption price, the price paid upon Calvary's
cross. The body must be yielded to God as a living sacrifice. "For ye are
bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, which are God's."

              4. Concerning the Relationship of Man and Woman

                                 CHAPTER 7

     1. The Single and the Married Life. (7:1-9).
     2. Separation and Divorce. (7:10-16).
     3. Abiding in the Different Callings. (7:17-24).
     4. The Unmarried and Married in Contrast. (7:2540).

     It is evident from the first verse that the Corinthians had inquired
of the Apostle about marriage and the relationship of man and woman. It was
an important question in a city of the character of Corinth, so full of
immorality. This chapter answers their question and gives instructions
concerning the unmarried and those who are joined together in marriage. "It
is good for man not to touch a woman" has been used as sanctioning celibacy
and discrediting the marriage union. Such is not the case. The unmarried
state has for the Christian, who is fully devoted to the Lord, certain
spiritual advantages. "He that is unmarried careth for the things that
belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord" (Verse 32). Compare this
also with the words of our Lord in Matthew 19:4-12. The Apostle Paul was
unmarried (verse 8) and denied himself the lawful privilege of having a
wife (9:5) to be free in all things to serve the Lord. But there were great
dangers, especially in heathen Corinth, where fornication was religiously
sanctioned. Therefore the Apostle enjoins them that every man should have
his own wife and every woman have her own husband. And in this
relationship, fully approved by the Lord both must be true to its natural
claims. As to the body, the husband belongs to the wife and the wife to the
husband. They are not to defraud each other. However, by mutual consent
they may be apart for a season to give themselves unto prayer. And this he
wrote not as a command, but as a permission. "The Apostle gives his
thoughts and judgment as a spiritual man, his mind animated and guided by
the Spirit, and contrasts it with inspiration and what the Lord said."

     Then the question of separation and divorce is taken up. The
indissolubleness of the marriage tie had been declared by the Lord and is
here confirmed. "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put
asunder." "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it
be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and whoso
marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:6, 9).
And so the Apostle writes that which is a command not coming from himself
but from the Lord, that if a separation takes place between husband and
wife, she is to remain unmarried, or be reconciled. The husband is not to
put away his wife. How little heed is paid to all this among professing
Christians in our days. The increase of unscriptural divorces is appalling.

     Next the case of mixed marriages is considered. Most likely many such
cases were in existence in Corinth. "According to the law a man who had
married a woman of the Gentiles (and was consequently profane or unclean)
defiled himself, and was compelled to send her away; and their children had
no right to Jewish privileges; they were rejected as unclean. (See Ezra
10:3). But under grace it was quite the contrary. The converted husband
sanctified the wife, and vice versa, and their children were reckoned clean
before God; they had part in the ecclesiastical rights of their parent.
This is the sense of the word 'holy,' in connection with the question of
order and of outward relationship towards God, which was suggested by the
obligation under the law to send away wife and children in a similar case.
Thus the believer was not to send away his wife, nor to forsake an
unbelieving husband. If the unbeliever forsook the believer definitively,
the latter (man or woman) was free 'let him depart.' The brother was no
longer bound to consider the one who had forsaken him as his wife, nor the
sister the man who had forsaken her as her husband. But they were called to
peace, and not to seek this separation; for how did the believer know if he
should not be the means of the unbeliever's conversion? For we are under
grace." (Synopsis of the Bible J.N.D.)

     Of course the unbelieving husband by being united to a believing wife
was not actually sanctified. This requires faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
But the unbelieving husband of a Corinthian household, whose wife was a
believer, was no longer in the darkness of heathendom; he was surrounded by
the light of Christianity and had come through being linked with a believer
under its blessed influence. And so the offspring of such a union. Grace
sought both the unbelieving husband and the children. But mixed marriages
are never to be encouraged. 2 Corinthians 6:14 forbids them.

     Verses 17-24 are parenthetical. And every man is to abide in the
calling wherein he is called. Each is to abide with God (verse 24) in his
own particular calling and thus glorify God in it. A believer is to be
above all earthly circumstances. Yielding obedience to God is the one great
thing. "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."

     The final paragraph of this chapter (verses 25-40) gives the contrasts
between those who marry and those who do not. Let us heed these blessed
exhortations of such importance to God's people. "I say, brethren the time
is short." If that was true then, how much more so is it in the significant
days in which our lot is cast. With the ever increasing signs of the ending
of the age and the coming of the Lord about us, we know that the time is
short. In view of this fact those who have wives are to be as though they
had none; they who weep, who pass through suffering, as though they wept
not; they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; they that buy, as
though they possessed not; and they that use the world as not abusing it,
for the fashion of this world passeth away. We are to be without
carefulness and distraction, so that we can serve the Lord. Much here is
the advice of the Apostle concerning yielding to nature, which is perfectly
lawful, or not yielding to it as to marriage. It is not the commandment of
the Lord. Nevertheless we must remember that if he gives his apostolic
advice, it is inspired advice, the advice of the Holy Spirit.

 5. Concerning Meats Offered to Idols: Christian Liberty Governed by Love

                                 CHAPTER 8

     1. Concerning things sacrificed to idols and knowledge. (8:1-6).
     2. True knowledge and liberty governed by love. (8:7-13).

     Another question is raised concerning things offered to idols. Should
Christians eat what had been offered in sacrifice to idols? These
idol-offered meats were generally sold in the meat market. Would a believer
be defiled by using such meats? They all had knowledge concerning these
matters. But mere knowledge without love only puffeth up. Love is better
than knowledge, for it edifieth, and this love they had to manifest in the
matter of eating things sacrificed to idols. As to knowledge, how little
man knoweth. How true it is "if any man think he knoweth anything, he
knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." Pride because of knowledge is a
dangerous thing, and much of this we see among Christians. True knowledge
of God produces love for Him and such a one is known of God. Then the
question is taken up. They had the knowledge that an idol is nothing in the
world. There is none other God but one, "the Father, of whom are all things
and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we
by Him."

     But not all had this perfect knowledge. Some had the conception that
the idol is a reality, a god, though a false one; they did not grasp the
fact that an idol is nothing. They ate of the meat, feeling that it had
been an idol sacrifice, and their conscience in these scruples being weak
is defiled. They were therefore in bondage and did not enjoy the liberty in
Christ. Verse 8 shows that eating meat or not eating meat has no advantage
whatever before God. The important thing then is stated. "But take heed
lest by any means this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling block to them
that are weak." One who is weak in faith (not possessing true knowledge)
sees a brother eating meat in the idol's temple and by it he will become
emboldened to do violence to his conscience and do the same thing, and in
doing it he sins. He acts not in faith, but imitates another and worse
things may follow. By his act the brother who has knowledge may be more
than a stumbling block. The weak brother may perish, for whom Christ died,
through such an example. The disastrous effect is put in the strongest
term. Of course the weak brother will not actually perish, but in his
conscience he will be guilty. However grace will step in and prevent this
threatening danger. No sheep or lamb of His shall perish; for none can
pluck them out of His hand. We are our brother's keepers, not their Savior.
Well has it been said, "out of our careless hands they fall for safety into
His." But sinning against brethren and wounding their weak consciences is
sinning against Christ. "Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth" (verse
1). The Apostle then states that he will relinquish his knowledge and
liberty in case it would offend his brother, "Lest I make my brother
offend." Christian liberty is to be governed by love for the brethren.

     "The liberty of God's children is absolute, but they are expected to
use it as imitators of God. We have to consider not ourselves only, but
both our brethren and the world. A saint may be walking without
circumspection, and yet with an unruffled conscience. But this is
dangerous. Heed must be taken lest, while enjoying, in one sense
blamelessly, our liberty, we become unwittingly a stumbling block to
others. An ostentatious use of liberty rarely fails to injure the boaster
and those who may observe his ways. True grace, because it is free and
knows its happiness in fellowship with God, makes no effort to seem free.
Rather it will seek to use its liberty in love, considering the weak, and
neither despising them, nor tempting them by wrong example to act in
anything beyond their faith."--Pridham.

     All this is practical truth and much needed in our days of worldliness
and laxity in the Christian walk. It is a good rule to ask in all our walk
and in the use of our liberty, how will it affect the fellow-members of the
body? We refer the reader to Romans 14 where the same truth is treated.
(See the annotations there.)

                        6. Paul's Gracious Example.

                                 CHAPTER 9

     1. The Apostle's rights. (9:1-14).
     2. He waives his rights for the Gospel's sake. (9:15-23).
     3. The race-course and the crown. (9:24-27).

     The great principle laid down in the previous chapter to forego one's
Christian liberty, the Apostle Paul enforced by his own example. He was an
Apostle and had seen the Lord Jesus, from whom he had received his
apostleship (Gal. 1:1). From the second verse we learn that some had not
recognized him as an Apostle; these must have been false teachers. But the
Corinthians knew he was an Apostle. Through his testimony they had been
converted so that he could say "for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in
the Lord." As an Apostle he had certain rights, but he did not make use of
them. All his rights and his privileges had been given up by him. The law
also affirmed his claim, for it forbad the muzzling of the oxen that
treadeth the corn. Those that sow spiritual things are perfectly entitled
to reap carnal (material) things. Other teachers used this God-given right
and accepted their material things; and he had a greater claim for this
upon the Corinthians, for he taught them first. "Nevertheless we have not
used this power, but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the Gospel of
Christ." The Lord certainly had ordained that they who preach the Gospel
should live of the Gospel. All this he had not used; he had not made use of
what was his right. Nor did he write these words that his claims might be
satisfied. He did not want his glorying made void. What was his glory? Not
the preaching of the Gospel in itself. Necessity was laid upon him and "Woe
is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel!" "For if I do this of mine own
will, I have a reward; but if not of mine own will, I am entrusted with a
stewardship." (The translation of verse 17 in the Authorized Version is

     What is his reward? In what does he glory? His answer is "that when I
preach the gospel, I make the gospel without charge, so as not to use, as
belonging to me, my right in the gospel." In this way the gospel was not
hindered; it was made more effective. For being free from all, free from
the control of any person, he had made himself the servant of all, that he
might win as many as he could. This was his reward, to preach the gospel
gratuitously. Governed by love he had become a servant of all. His rights
were given up, but he did not insist upon his Christian freedom, but gave
up his liberty in order "that I might by all means save some." He did not
seek his own things but the things of Christ. The most blessed
self-sacrifice on behalf of Christ and the Gospel of Christ marked his
service. How few such servants, who give up, self-denying,
self-sacrificing, waiving their rights for the Gospel sake, are found today
in Christendom. But how many are seeking their own!

     The concluding paragraph is fully in line with these statements of the
Apostle. He uses as an illustration the Greek stadium, the race-course,
well known to the Corinthians on account of the games on the isthmus of
Corinth. In order to run successfully and obtain the prize, self-denial was
necessary. There was a prize for him who won. Spiritually, not one, but all
may obtain the prize, if all run well. And in the race every man that
striveth for the mastery, to obtain the victory, is temperate in all
things. They do it to obtain a fading crown, a wreath; but we have the
promise of a crown that fadeth not away, an everlasting crown.

     And if those who strive for earthly honor deny themselves, how much
more should we practice self-denial in view of the crown of glory! "I
therefore so run not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth
the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that
by any means, having preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
What did the Apostle mean by the latter statement? The word "castaway" is
found also in the following passages: Rom. 1:28; 2 Cor. 13:5, 6, 7; 2 Tim.
3:8; and Titus 1:16. In these passages it is translated by "reprobate." In
Heb. 6:8 it is translated "rejected." Did he mean that he feared to be lost
himself? Or did he only fear disapproval as a workman, whose service is
rejected and to be counted unworthy of a crown? The statement does not
clash with the teaching of the eternal security of the believer. The
Apostle personally does not fear for himself, as no true believer needs to
fear, but he applies an important principle to himself. Salvation and a
holy walk are inseparably connected. Preaching alone will not do, but the
truth must be lived.

     "There would be difficulty indeed, if the apostle spoke of having been
born again and afterwards becoming a castaway: in this case life would not
be eternal. But he says nothing of the sort. He only shows the solemn
danger and certain ruin of preaching without a practice according to it.
This the Corinthians needed to hear. Preaching or teaching truth to men
without reality, self-judgment and self-denial before God, is ruinous. It
is to deceive ourselves, not Him who is not mocked. Nor do any Christians
more deeply need to watch and pray than those who are much occupied with
handling the word of God or guiding others in the ways of the Lord. How
easy for such to forget that doing the truth is the common responsibility
of all, and that speaking it to others ever so earnestly is no substitute
for their own obeying it as in the sight of God!" (William Kelly)

     It is a warning against an empty profession of Christianity without
the manifestation of the power. Where there is true salvation and eternal
life, it is proved by a godly walk. The Apostle in these personal
statements shows that all the blessed knowledge he had and with it the most
positive assurance of eternal glory, did not make him careless, but
prompted him to still greater earnestness and continued self-denial. He
knew nothing in his life of the self-indulgence which characterized so many
in the Corinthian assembly; he kept his body under. But he also knew, as
every Christian should know, that the grace which had saved him, which
taught him to live soberly, righteously and godly, would also keep him and
enable him to persevere through all hindrances.

                       7. Warnings and Exhortations

                                CHAPTER 10

     1. Warnings from Israel's past history. (10:4-7).
     2. Exhortations. (10:15-33).

     The same subject is continued with this chapter. The concluding
paragraph of the previous chapter is illustrated from Israel's history, as
the professing people of God. What happened unto them has a typical meaning
for us. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (types), and
they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (ages)
are come." He speaks of "our fathers (Israel's fathers) were under the
cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses in
the cloud and in the sea."

     God had delivered them out of Egypt; the cloud covered them and the
sea divided, for their salvation and for the judgment upon the Egyptian
hosts. The Lord had made them free to serve Him and it is written "they
believed the Lord and His servant Moses." In this sense they were baptized,
or set apart, unto Moses as his disciples. And the person who accepts and
professes Christianity is set apart to Christ. All who were under the
covering and protecting cloud and who had passed through the sea, ate the
same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink, of the rock which
followed them, and the rock was Christ. The Lord in infinite love provided
for them by giving them food and water, which both are typical of Christ.
All ate and drank of the miraculous supply. But what became of the great
mass of this people? "But with many of them God was not well pleased, for
they were overthrown in the wilderness." They lusted after evil things;
some became idolators; some fornicators; some tempted the Lord by trying
His patience and murmuring. Judgment followed. In one day 23,000 fell;
others were destroyed by serpents and perished by the destroyer. (See Numb.
25:9; when 24,000 are mentioned. See for an explanation of this alleged
discrepancy annotations on Numb. 25.) And all this was written for the
admonition and warning of the Corinthians. It shows how those who enjoy
divine privileges and lay claim to the title of being God's people, but do
not live in separation, do not please God. They that are in the flesh
cannot please God, though they may profess Christianity and partake of
divine things. Many of the Corinthians were in this dangerous condition.
And the admonition and warning is for us as well.

     "The warning is for us all. We have no right to say, 'Well, but we are
true Christians, and therefore we need not trouble about these things.'
These are things which as principles are of the greatest importance for us
to realize. There are evil things for which we may lust as they lusted. If
God prevents the extreme result for us, that is His mercy, but the effect
of our disregarding the warnings may be that our lives may be alas, how
greatly spoiled and disfigured and made quite other than He would have
them, by our laxity!"--Numerical Bible

     Two important statements follow. "Let him that thinketh he standeth
take heed lest he fall." This is our responsibility. But how can a believer
stand in this world, so dangerous and full of evil? Only by faith can we
stand, and faith is confidence in God. As we have no self-confidence, but
trust in Him alone and walk in fellowship with Him we shall stand and be
upheld. Then there is the blessed comforting statement: "God is faithful."
He does not allow that we are tempted above that we are able, but he
provides a way to escape. "Wherefore, dearly beloved, flee from idolatry."
It meant for the Corinthians the idolatry of heathendom. But there is also
a more subtle idolatry. That believer is kept from all idolatry who is
wholly devoted to the Lord and who gives to Him constantly the preeminence.
Devotedness to God keeps from idols.

     The second half of this chapter contains exhortations about idolatry
and the believer's walk in the midst of the corruption which is in the
world. The Lord's supper is significantly introduced at this point. As we
find in the next chapter, it is the memorial feast of what the Lord Jesus
Christ has done for us. Blessed and precious is this feast of communion.
And in eating of it there is identification with the body of Christ, for
"we are all partakers of that one bread." In the Lord's supper, many of the
essential truths of Christianity are revealed and enjoyed by faith, in the
power of the Spirit, as an act of true worship. If the believer then
realizes that he is a partaker of Christ and tastes afresh of His love and
gazes in hope towards the coming glory, he will have nothing to do with
idols, nor have any fellowship with darkness. As he has written before, the
idol is nothing, meaning the supposed gods of the heathen. However,
idolatry was a horrible reality, by which the souls and bodies of men were
corrupted. The heathen sacrificed in idol-worship to demons and not to God.
And how can he who drinks the cup of the Lord, the Lord of all, drink also
the cup of demons? Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the
table of demons. In doing this they would provoke the Lord to jealousy.
Every wicked doctrine and false worship is backed by demons and
participation in it means identification. This is especially true of the
anti-Christian movements of our times, such as Christian Science, Theosophy
and others. (1 Tim. 4:1.) The instructions call for a cautious and
separated walk, as it becometh those who are the Lord's. God is to be
before the heart of the believer in all things. "Whether therefore ye eat,
or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."


        1. Headship, and the Position of Woman.  The Lord's Supper.

                                CHAPTER 11.

     1. The Headship of Christ and of the Man; Position of Woman. 1-16.
     2. The Lord's Supper. 17-31.

     The opening verse belongs to the preceding chapter. And now after the
church in relation to the world had been treated by the Apostle in the
first part of the epistle, he takes up next the affairs of the church
itself. Here, too, much had to be corrected into which the Corinthian
assembly had drifted. After the brief and excellent word of praise by which
he expressed his confidence in them (verse 2), he calls their attention to
an important truth, which in our times is not only overlooked, but often
belittled and altogether set aside. It concerns the headship of Christ, of
the man, and the position of woman. It is evident that Corinthian women had
assumed in the church a position which was not according to God's order in
creation. They had not yet learned it. God's order in creation has to be
manifested in the church. This order is unaltered by redemption, though in
Christ there is neither male nor female, yet has God assigned to man and to
woman their respective places which must be maintained. This divine order
the Apostle states. "But I would have you know, that the head of every man
is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is
God." These are weighty and blessed statements. Christ is the Creator, the
Lord of all, but He also became man and is the "First born of all Creation"
(Col. 1:15-16). He is therefore in possession of the headship in creation,
and head of man as the Man, as He is also the head of the Church. God has
given Him the preeminence in all things. And the head of the woman is the
man; this is the place which God has given to woman on earth. In creation
the head of the woman is man. Yet what would man be without the woman!--she
is necessary to him.

     "The woman is the glory of man. For the man is not of the woman; but
the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the
woman for the man." To these statements about the headship of Christ, the
headship of man, he being head of the woman, the Apostle adds "and the head
of Christ is God." Christ is the eternal Son of God, coequal in Godhead in
every way. He is God. But the Only-Begotten humbled Himself; He took on the
creature's form and "was made of a woman." And as Man He has taken the
place under God, yielding perfect obedience in all things. In all His
redemption work He is under God, not only on earth, but now in glory, as
the glorified Man at the right hand of God, who raised Him from the dead
and gave Him glory.

     The purpose of the declaration of this order of the ways of God in
creation was to set them right on a matter which in our days is often
sneered at. Man praying or prophesying is not to cover his head. Woman
praying and prophesying is to have a covering on her head. The man who
covereth his head in praying dishonoreth his head. Woman uncovered
dishonoreth her head. A covering on the head is the outward sign of being
in the place of subjection. An uncovered head signifies the opposite. The
order which God has instituted as to the place of man and woman, His people
are bound to respect. It may appear a little thing, yet if disobeyed, as it
was in Corinth (where women seemed to be puffed up and refused to follow
this order), it becomes a stepping stone towards more serious evil. Woman
is to testify to her place of subjection by covering her head in praying
and testifying. Man similarly engaged does not cover his head, for the
authority is vested in man "for as much as he is the image and glory of
God, but the woman is the glory of man." How all this is denied and woman
aims to take leadership and rulership in place of man, we need not to
enlarge upon.

     If woman persists in leaving the place (in subjection) where her glory
shines, if she will persist in pushing out into the glare of public life
and thrust herself into the struggle and grinding competition that wears
out men's lives and tenderer instincts, let her not be astonished if she
lose her distinctive grace--the delicate sheen that cannot bear the world's
rough, unhallowed ways (Prof. Moorehead).

     Another reason is given why praying women should wear outwardly a sign
of subjection--because of the angels. Angels are watchers and attendants of
the heirs of salvation. As the church is known to them and by it they know
the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10), so are they observers of
Christian worship and the order and behavior of God's people in His house.
And angels themselves are in subjection and yield perfect obedience.

     Then the church itself is brought into view. The first thing is not
the fact that Christians are the members of Christ, who constituted the
body of Christ, the gifts of the body and the exercise of these gifts. The
Lord's supper, that blessed memorial of His love in His sacrificial death,
the love which passeth knowledge, is the first thing mentioned. "Do this in
remembrance of Me" was His request in the night in which He was betrayed.
When the Holy Spirit came and the company gathered in fellowship we read at
once of "the breaking of bread," to remember Him (Acts 2:46). The first
thing in the assembly must be to remember Christ, His death, His presence
in glory, His coming again. But before the Apostle tells them what he had
received of the Lord, he had to reprove them for their disorder and their
divisions. In these sects and parties they denied the very truth of the
church as the one body, the body of Christ. They had a custom of eating a
meal in connection with the Lord's supper. And at this meal some drank to
excess, while it seems this custom of a preliminary meal led to a complete
neglect or unworthy observance of the supper itself. Then he writes of what
he had received of the Lord. How simple it all is! "This do ye, as oft as
ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as oft as ye eat this bread, and
drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come." The Lord's
supper is to remember Him, to show the Lord's death till He come. And all
else that man has made of it is pure invention, if not wicked blasphemy,
like the idolatrous mass of Romanism. And how often shall this feast, which
delights His heart, where God's children worship and adore, be kept? In
Apostolic days it was evidently kept every Lord's day (Acts 20:7).

     And all God's children, whom the Lord has received, have a right to
the Lord's table and gather thus around His blessed Person. The only things
which bar from the Lord's table, are evil doctrines and an evil walk. And
the Lord's supper may be eaten unworthily. He, who comes to the Lord's
table without self-judgment, eats and drinks of it unworthily. We eat and
drink unworthily when we partake without discerning the Lord's body and
blood represented by the bread and the wine, for we do not then show to God
the death of Christ. Let a man examine (judge) himself before eating or
else he eats for his own judgment. This is God's way of producing and
maintaining holiness in the church. And the Corinthians had experienced
that the Lord dealt with a number of them in judgment. Upon many the Lord
had laid His hand, many were weak and stricken with disease, while others
had fallen asleep. It was mercy, "but when we are judged we are chastened
of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."

     "The world is condemned. Sin in the Christian is judged; it escapes
neither the eye nor the judgment of God. He never permits it; He cleanses
the believer from it by chastening him, although He does not condemn,
because Christ has borne his sins, and been made sin for him. The death of
Christ forms then the center of communion in the assembly, and the
touchstone of conscience, and that, with respect to the assembly, in the
Lord's supper." (Synopsis of the Bible).

                  2. The Body and the Members of the Body

                                CHAPTER 12

     1. Concerning spiritual manifestations and diversities of gifts. 1-11.
     2. The Body and its members. 12-31.

     In this interesting, important chapter, spiritual manifestations are
first mentioned. The church is the body of Christ, the habitation of God
through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in the church. And first the
distinctive mark of the Spirit is stated. As heathen they had been under
the control of evil spirits, who had deluded them with idolatrous worship.
And these evil spirits were still active, creeping in among Christians,
pretending to be the Spirit of God and counterfeiting His manifestations.
It was so then and it is so now. Seducing spirits and doctrines of demons
are in fullest evidence in the professing church. Satan transforms himself
into an angel of light; he imitates and produces certain manifestations, as
he must have done among the Corinthians; but Satan never owns Jesus as
Lord. The work of the Holy Spirit is to exalt the Lord Jesus. The Spirit
does not even speak of Himself, but always glorifies Christ, giving Him the
right place. The evil spirits do the opposite; they degrade Him and attempt
to rob Him of His glory. This they do through evil doctrines. It amounts to
the same as saying "anathema" (curse) "Jesus" as Jews and Gentiles did in
rejecting Jesus as Lord. No man speaking by the Spirit of God would say
that. And all who own Him as Lord do so by the bidding and the teaching of
the Holy Spirit.

     "If the highest honor is not freely and sincerely given to the name of
Jesus, its only other place is utter degradation. Between 'anathema' and
'Lord' there is no other place which it can justly occupy. The wide space
which seems morally to intervene between a living and adoring faith and a
deliberate and positive denial of that name, is ignored by the Spirit, in
His estimate of human character, as a nullity and a deception. With Him men
are either believers or unbelievers, confessors or deniers of the Lord.
Now, by the Apostle's testimony, to confess Him truly is impossible but by
the Holy Ghost."--Pridham.

     The Holy Spirit, the divine Person, is on earth and manifests His
power in the body of Christ, the church. The Lord Jesus having accomplished
redemption, believers on His name are ransomed and cleansed by His blood,
and united to Him, as His body, and the Holy Spirit dwells in each member
of this body. It is through the Spirit that communion with the Head is
realized and maintained. In His gifts the presence of the Spirit of God is
therefore manifested in the members of the body. This is now more fully
treated in this chapter. In verses 4-6 we hear of the Spirit, the Lord, and
God; the same Spirit--the same Lord, and the same God. Yet there is not a
division into three classes of gifts, but the same thing is seen in three
relations. The diversities of gifts are by the same Spirit; through Him
they are bestowed. These gifts are in relation to the Lord; they are to be
used in ministries, that is, in service for the Lord, under whom and for
whose glory these gifts are to be used. And the whole operations are of
God, who worketh all in all. All this is of course confined to the members
of the body of Christ.

     "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man (a true
believer) for profit." The gift bestowed upon one member is for the whole
body, all are to profit by it. The possession of a gift makes the believer
a debtor to the other members of Christ. Nine gifts by the same Spirit are
mentioned. They are the following: The Word of Wisdom; the Word of
Knowledge; Faith; the gift of Healing; the Working of Miracles; Prophecy;
Discerning of spirits; tongues and interpretations of tongues.

     It will be seen that the miraculous sign-gifts hold a secondary place,
the last being speaking in tongues and their interpretations. The word of
Wisdom stands at the head of these gifts and is followed by the word of
Knowledge. They stand for the gifts to understand the deep things of God
and to impart them unto others. It means a spiritual apprehension of the
truth of God in all its phases and the power to communicate this truth to
others. The gift of faith is a special endowment of confidence in God and
His promises, which enables the possessor to lay hold on God and accomplish
great things. All believers have faith and live by faith. The gift of
healing and the working of miracles, were sign-gifts for the inauguration
of the Christian dispensation. There is no intimation that these miraculous
gifts were to continue in the church throughout this age.

     In Ephesians, the highest revelation concerning the body of Christ,
the permanent gifts for the edifying of the body are mentioned, but gifts
of healing, working miracles or speaking in tongues are omitted. Nor is
there a promise in the Word that those extraordinary gifts are to be
restored by the Spirit of God to the church before the Lord comes for His
saints. Signs and miracles will take place at the close of this age, but
they are the lying things of Satan (2 Thessalonians 2). Anything which
claims to be a restoration of miraculous gifts, as it is the case among
certain sects, must be looked upon with grave suspicion. Besides prophecy
and the discerning of spirits (trying the spirits whether they are of God)
the gift of tongues and their interpretation are mentioned. As we find
later the Corinthians, in their bad spiritual state, esteemed the gift of
tongues the highest; the Spirit of God, however, gives to it an inferior
place. They were almost destitute of the exercise of the highest gift of
wisdom and knowledge and magnified, what was for outward demonstration,
because it exalted themselves.

     The exercise of the gift of healing and similar gifts was never
discretional. They were manifested only in their fitting season, and could
only work effectually by the immediate will of God. Power is His, and
always in His hands. If Trophimus was sick, the wish of Paul could not
restore him. Yet the believer can come to the Lord in prayer and claim his
power. Our refuge in time of need must be sought, not in God's gifts, but
in the faithfulness of the Giver.

     Of much importance is verse 13: "For in one Spirit are we all baptized
into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;
and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." This refers to the
formation of the body. The baptism mentioned in this verse is not
water-baptism. Water baptism does not save nor can this ordinance put any
one as a member into the true church, the one body. The baptism is the
baptism of the Spirit. It took place on the day of Pentecost. On that day
the Spirit was poured out and while He filled every believer, He also
united them into one body. Then the body of Christ was formed once for all
by this baptism. Since that day whenever a sinner trusts in Christ he is at
once joined to that body and shares in the one Spirit. Many Christians
speak of repeated baptisms by the Spirit and refer to certain experiences
as being new baptisms. In the light of this verse all this is incorrect.
Scripture knows only one baptism. And all believers drink of one Spirit;
they are all made partakers of one and the same Spirit.

     And this body which was called into existence by the Spirit on the day
of Pentecost is not one member, but many. There are many members, yet but
one body. And the different members in that body are dependent the one on
the other, and have need of each other, just as it is in the human body.
And God hath set the members every one of them in the body as it hath
pleased Him. Each member has his own place with a gift, a function, which
is suitable for it. Nothing in this body is left to man himself. It is His
Church and God orders the place of each and of all in that body. Therefore,
self-choosing is excluded. How all this is marred, if not wholly forgotten,
in the professing church, is only too evident. The conditions today, the
divisions in the body, the false doctrines and unscriptural practices
throughout Christendom, are plainly the result of having set aside the
truth concerning the one body.

     And those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are
necessary. "And those members of the body which we think to be less
honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our comely parts
have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need; but God
has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that
part which lacked." As it is in the human body, so also is it in the body
of Christ. There was to be no self-exaltation, as it undoubtedly was among
the Corinthians on account of the gifts which they had so abundantly,
especially the sign-gifts. They looked down upon other members who were
less prominent. And this was responsible for the threatening division in
the body. The blessed injunction is that the members should have the same
care one for another, then there would be no schism in the body.

     If one member suffers, all suffer, because they are in one body
indwelt and united by the same Spirit; and if one member be honored, all
rejoice with it. And this body is the body of Christ; He is the head of the
body and wants to manifest Himself through His body. This is the church
collectively, but the same are the members severally. The order of how God
has bestowed gifts follows (verse 28). Again the gift of tongues, in which
the Corinthians abounded, on account of which grave disorders and
disturbances had come in, is put last.

     "And the Corinthians then, as others of late, had to hear, whether
they heeded or not, that those striking displays of power in which they
found their childish surprise and delight, like the world without, were not
the highest, that there were gifts relatively first and second and third,
the last named being the very one they had been abusing to no small
disorder and hindrance of edification in the assembly."

     Verses 29-30 show another important principle. All cannot be apostles,
prophets, leaders, workers of miracles, etc. God does not bestow all these
different gifts upon one individual. They are distributed as it pleases
Him, to each member as He sees fit. Ministry in the body of Christ is the
exercise of a gift. The Corinthians in their puffed up condition had a
selfish ambition to have all these gifts concentrated in every member.

     "The Corinthians' folly was not greater in wishing all the gifts to be
in each and all the saints, than the modern theory of arrogating all, as
far as public ministration goes, to a single official. The one was ignorant
vanity before the truth was fully revealed in a written form; the other is
more guilty presumption in presence of the acknowledged word of God, which
condemns every departure from His principles, and the great fact of the one
body with its many members, wherein the Holy Spirit works to glorify the
Lord Jesus" (W. Kelly).

     He tells them to covet earnestly the best gifts and he would show unto
them a more excellent way. This more excellent way is the way of love of
which we hear in the next chapter.

                   3. The Need and Superiority of Love.

                                CHAPTER 13

     1. The Preeminence of Love. 1-3.
     2. Love described in its characteristics. 4-7.
     3. Love never faileth; its Permanence. 8-13.

     This chapter is a most blessed exaltation of love. The word "charity"
is an unfortunate mistranslation. The Greek word for love used in the New
Testament was never used by the Greek heathen classical writers. In its
meaning it was unknown among the Gentiles. God is love. As His people,
members of His body, we know the love of God manifested in the gift of
God's well beloved Son. And this love is shed abroad in the hearts of the
children of God. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and
every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God." "Beloved, if God so
loved us, we ought also to love one another ... if we love one another, God
dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:7, 11-12.). The
divine nature bestowed by the Spirit of God is a holy nature and a nature
which possesseth in it the love of God. Love is therefore the divine nature
in its manifestation. And this wonderful love, the divine love, is to be
manifested in the body of Christ. It is the true motive for all ministry.
The Corinthians in their worldly, self-seeking, ambitious spirit, in their
use of the gifts, had not followed this more excellent way. The divisions
among them and their self-exaltation and self-confidence were the result of
not being governed by love. If love had been supreme in the Corinthian
church, neither sectarianism, nor careless walk, nor indifference to sin of
others and toleration of evil, nor going before a heathen judge, nor
high-minded pretensions, nor the desecration of the Lord's supper, nor a
false practice of Christian liberty, could have prospered. Love surpasses
everything. It is a far better thing than any gift. Very significantly the
Apostle begins with the gift, as already pointed out, of the smallest
value. Speaking with the tongues of men and of angels without love is like
sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

     (For a number of years movements have started which claim to be a new
Pentecost. The gift of tongues is the leading feature. They go by different
names--Apostolic Faith--Pentecostal Faith--Latter-Day Rain, etc. But is it
the work of the Holy Spirit? The divisions which exist in these movements,
the unscriptural teachings which are held by some of them and the lack of
love, besides other characteristics are not the marks of the energy and
power of God's Spirit.)

     Prophecy, the understanding of all mysteries, all knowledge, all
wonder-working faith and even the giving up of all things and martyrdom,
are valueless without love. God looks for love; it is of God, and loving is
conformity to God. It is a solemn warning that true gifts may be possessed
without a manifestation of love.

     Many pages could be filled with a closer examination of the different
characteristics of divine love as given by the Apostle. If we study the
blessed life the Son of God lived down here we shall find how He manifested
this love in His life among the children of men. The fifteen brief, but
deep, descriptions of love should be the standing mirror of self-judgment
for all God's children. To read these pithy sentences in His presence at
the close of each day and apply them as a test, is a wholesome exercise.

     The opening descriptions are all of a passive character, and show that
love demands the renunciation of self. Long-suffering and kindness head the
list. These are the attributes of our loving God and Father, and we are to
imitate Him as His children and forbear one another in love. Love does not
envy. God does not envy. Envy is of Satan; all self-seeking has its origin
in pride, which is the crime of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6). Love vaunteth
not itself. It never seeks the applause of men. Self-display is self-love.
True love is not puffed up. Love doth not behave itself unseemly. Its
ornaments are meekness, modesty and unobtrusiveness. It seeketh not its
own; it is self-neglect and is expressed in devotion to others. Nor is it
easily provoked, for self-consciousness and self-seeking being absent,
sensitiveness becomes impossible. Love thinketh no evil. The better
translation is, "does not impute evil." It rather hides than exposes.
Furthermore, love "rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth with the truth."
The last four characteristics show its positive energy. It beareth all
things--it puts up with anything but that which is wrong and sinful;
believeth all things; it does not suspect, therefore it hopeth all things
and also endureth all things. Finally the permanence of love is stated.
Prophecies, tongues and knowledge will fail, cease and pass away. Love
never. It is abiding eternal, the greatest of all.

                  4. Prophecy and Speaking with a Tongue.

                                CHAPTER 14

     1. Prophecy the better gift. 1-13.
     2. Intelligibility demanded. 14-25.
     3. Practical instructions for the public use of these gifts. 26-40.

     It is evident from the contents of this chapter that the Corinthians
had unduly magnified the gift of speaking in a strange tongue. It had a
spectacular aspect which they enjoyed. He therefore shows them that the
gift of prophecy is more to be coveted than speaking in an unknown tongue.
The speaking in an unknown tongue is intelligible to God, but he that
prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, exhortation and comfort.
While the Apostle does not deny the value of speaking with tongues, he
would rather that they prophesied "for greater is he that prophesieth than
he that speaketh with tongues." Speaking with tongues edifies the speaker
alone but prophecy edifies the church. What is the profit in speaking with
an unknown tongue to believers unless the tongue has a real meaning.
Musical instruments, which give forth sound, like a pipe or an harp, have
no meaning whatever unless there be distinction in the tunes. Thus he shows
the uselessness of the gift of tongues for edification unless the tongue is
intelligible to all. "Even so ye, for as much as ye are zealous of
spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may

     What the speaking in tongues really was we do not know positively. It
was probably an ecstatic form of speech, or some foreign language. As a
distinctive gift it has passed away, notwithstanding the fact that from
time to time the restoration of this sign-gift has been claimed. (During
the middle ages; at the time of the Wesley's; during the days of Edward
Irving, when it was proven to emanate from evil spirits; and in our own
days, thousands claim to possess it.) But what is prophesying? , In the Old
Testament prophecy, it was foretelling coming events. In the New Testament,
it has a different meaning. It is not foretelling, but forthtelling. it is
one who is speaking as from God and for God; the one who possesses this
gift must therefore be in communication with God through the Spirit so as
to be able to communicate to others His mind and His will. The exercise of
this gift necessitates a close walk with God. This gift the Apostle desired
the Corinthians to have. Instead the Corinthians had the inferior gift,
which they valued on account of the display and perhaps the mysteriousness
of it.

     (The people in our own times who profess to have received this
sign-gift claim that it is an evidence of having received the "baptism" of
the Spirit, which, as we have already pointed out, is in itself
unscriptural. They are on ground on which they are open to the subtle
influences of Satan's power.)

     The Apostle also states that he spoke with tongues more than they did.
"Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with understanding, that
by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an
unknown tongue." From all these regulations and statements we learn that
the use of this gift was rather tolerated than commended (see verse 39) to
the churches because it was a hindrance rather than a help to the needed
thing, which is edification in love. Furthermore, tongues were for a sign
to the unbelievers. Prophesying is for the believers. "If therefore the
whole church be come together into one place and all speak with tongues and
there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say
that you are mad?"

     It is a fact that in the meetings of the modern advocates of the gift
of tongues often the greatest disorder prevails. Men and women falling down
in convulsions, hysterical laughter, unpleasant shrieks and other
demonstrations have not been uncommon, so that an unbeliever would be
perfectly right to pass the verdict "they are mad." It is different With
prophesying. "But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth
not, or are unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all. And
thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his
face he will worship God, declaring that God is truly among you."

     The meetings of the Saints of God coming together in His Name and
gathered to that name must be characterized by quietness and order. "For
God is not the author of confusion (tumult, unquietness), but of peace, as
in all churches of the Saints." All things must be done decently and in
order (verse 40). Another important instruction is given in verses 34-35.
"let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto
them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith
the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at
home, for it is shame for women to speak in the church." Some have said
that this demand of the Apostle was given solely to the Corinthians,
because women were forward in the church and that it does not apply to our
days. This is a serious mistake. Nor are these words merely the words of
the Apostle Paul, as some have claimed. It is God's Word and the command is
the command of the Holy Spirit. The public ministry of women is not
permitted by the Spirit of God. The Word of God discountenances a prominent
public ministry of women as inconsistent with the original law of creation,
and with the modesty and meekness which are the woman's chief adorning in
the sight of God. What mischief, confusion and worse things have resulted
from disobeying this divine command. Woman leaving the sphere assigned to
her by the Creator and the Redeemer is stepping on dangerous ground. In
connection with the statement, "A woman suffer not to teach, nor to usurp
authority over the man, but to be in silence," the Apostle calls attention
to the fact "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in
transgression" (1 Timothy 2:12-13). The originators and leaders of the most
damnable heresies of the latter times such as Christian Science, Theosophy
and Spiritism are women. But woman has a ministry and can exercise her
gifts as a member of the body of Christ.

     (Again we call attention to the modern gift of tongues, the
Pentecostal movements. Women are prominent among them. The divine command
"let your women keep silence in the churches" is disregarded by them, while
they claim obedience to the Word and a return to apostolic faith and

     "The woman's sphere of liberty, and, one may say, sovereignty, is at
home; that is to say, it is private and not public. It must not be thought
that this does not give ample scope for the exercise of gifts of whatever
kind. If there were only more of the cultivation on the woman's part of
that which belongs really to her sphere, how fruitful would be the exercise
of the gift with which God has endowed her and how many places would be
open to her which men, by reason of their being men, could not in the same
way fill! This in relation to children, it is at once evident; with the
younger children, the woman is still the best and the nature-ordained
teacher. God has placed the babe in its mother's arms and not its father's;
and this does not mean that the woman's sphere is only in her own family.
There are countless families to which her sex will introduce her, and where
she may find herself fully at home and abundant profit and recompense of
her work. So, through the wives, women have access in this way to an
indefinite sphere of occupation for varied blessing. The wife is the
heart-center of the household, and the ability thus to reach the wife in a
way that women certainly can do far beyond others is an immense privilege
and responsibility entrusted to her. Would that there were more realization
of this!" (Numerical Bible.)

              CHAPTERS 15-16

                1. Resurrection and the Hope of the Church.

                                CHAPTER 15

     1. The Gospel and the Resurrection of Christ. 1-11.
     2. If Christ were not raised--then what? 12-19.
     3. Christ the Firstfruits and what follows. 20-28.
     4. Further practical arguments about Resurrection. 29-34.
     5. Concerning the Resurrection of the Body. 35-49.
     6. The Coming of the Lord and the Victory. 50-58.

     The third section lifts us higher and brings us to the summit of this
Epistle. We have seen the church in relation to the world, the church as
the body of Christ and now we see the consummation, the destiny of the
church in resurrection glory. From this chapter we learn that some members
of the Corinthian church said "there is no resurrection of the dead" (verse
12). The denial of this fundamental doctrine of the faith brought forth
this blessed portion of the Epistle concerning resurrection and the coming
of the Lord.

     The first thing mentioned in opening up this subject is the gospel
which Paul had preached to the Corinthians, which they had received and
wherein they stood. This is the order: The preaching of the Gospel, the
good news, its reception by faith, followed by the standing in salvation
and the enjoyment of it. By this Gospel is salvation as it is so fully
revealed in the Epistle to the Romans. The Apostle Paul had delivered unto
them, which he himself had received from the Lord (Gal. 1:11-19). The three
great facts according to the Scriptures (the Old Testament Scriptures) are:
(1) Christ died for our sins. The death of Christ, the cross and the mighty
work accomplished there, is the great foundation. The entire Old Testament
revealed in many ways this fundamental fact without which there would be
and could be no redemption. (2.) He was buried. He expired as to the body
on the cross. The death of Christ was real and not a deception. And His
burial also has a meaning in the Gospel (Romans 6:4). And the third great
fact of the gospel, "He rose again the third day according to the
Scriptures." This is the great truth of this chapter, a truth, if denied,
must result in the complete collapse of the gospel. And His resurrection
had been foretold by Himself as well as by the Scriptures. (See Genesis
22:4 and Hebrews 11:17-19; Psalm 16). This great truth, the enemy has
always hated. The lying inventions of the Jews are well known to every
reader of the Gospel (Matt. 28:11-15). In Corinth this truth was being
denied, and in our own days those who deny the physical resurrection of the
Lord Jesus are ever on the increase in the professing church. They occupy
leading pulpits and are prominent in institutions of learning.

     The Apostle brings forth a number of witnesses, but he does not
mention the women who play such an important part in the resurrection
account of the Gospel. He gives only a number of witnesses, all men, who
furnish an unanswerable evidence. Unbelievers have often attempted to trace
the belief in the resurrection of our Lord to the women. Cephas is
mentioned first. "But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter," had been
the angelic instruction on the resurrection morning. And Peter who had so
shamefully denied Him had seen the risen One. "The Lord is risen indeed and
hath appeared unto Simon" (Luke 24:34). On the day of Pentecost he became
the wonderful witness of the risen Christ. That He appeared first to Simon
Peter shows His infinite grace. Then He was seen of the twelve. Luke
24:36-48 speaks of the eleven; the twelfth had gone to his awful place. But
the passage in Luke also informs us that others were with them when the
Lord appeared. The eleven were gathered together, and those that were with
them. (Luke 24:33). Probably Matthias, the one added to the Apostolate
(Acts 1:26), was in that company. "After that He was seen of above five
hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto the present,
but some are fallen asleep." This was probably in Galilee. And how could
such a large number of men be deceived together, or concoct a falsehood? It
is an impossibility. Sooner or later, if they had all agreed to deceive the
world, the fraud would have been discovered. He was also seen by James and
by all the Apostles. Last of all he was seen by the Apostle Paul on the
road to Damascus, where as the blind persecutor of the church, the chief of
sinners, He beheld Him in the glory light. He was like one born out of due
season. He was an untimely birth. He was in his experience a type of the
nation to which he belonged. As he saw Christ in glory so will the remnant
of Israel behold Him at the time of His second coming. He was therefore a
firstfruit of the nation.

     (The correct meaning of the Greek word "ektroma" seems to point to a
child born from a dead mother, by what is called the Caesarian operation.
The dead Jewish system gave birth to the chosen vessel who was to become
what Israel should have been, and yet will be, when the mystery of the
present dispensation is complete.--Romans 11:25-27).

     The Apostle Paul is one of the greatest witnesses to the resurrection
of the Lord Jesus. The argument which follows (verses 12-19) is so clear
and powerful that no comment is needed. If Christ is not risen from the
dead, if it were true what some said in Corinth "there is no resurrection
of the dead"--then what? The answer is fearful, for it strips the Christian
of everything. "Your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins; your loved
ones who died in Christ are perished, gone forever; we are of all men most
miserable." And into this terrible pit the men who deny this fundamental
doctrine are leading those who accept this damnable heresy (2 Peter 2:1).

     But triumphant is the uncontrovertible fact, "Christ is risen from
among the dead"; and more than that, "He is become the firstfruit of them
that slept." As He was raised, not as we have it in the authorized version
"from the dead," but "from among the dead," so will there be in the future
an "out-resurrection from among the dead," which is the first resurrection
of all those who are Christ's. A general resurrection is no more taught in
the Bible than a general judgment. By man came death (the first Adam) by
man also is the resurrection of the dead (by the last Adam, Christ). Verse
22 does not teach a universal salvation. Those who will be made alive are
those who are "in Christ." But only such are in Christ, who have believed
on Him and were born again.

     Verses 20-28, unfold the successive stages in the accomplishment of
God's purposes. (1) The Resurrection of Christ, then after the purpose of
the present age is accomplished. (2) His second coming (verse 23). (3) The
Resurrection of those who belong to Him. (4) The overthrow of all His
enemies and the establishment of His kingly and glorious rule over the
earth. (5) His delivering up the Kingdom to God that God may be all in all.

     Verses 29-34 continues the reasoning on the fatal results if there
were no resurrection. Verse 29 connects with verse 19 and what is between,
verses 20-28, form a parenthesis. What then is the value of Christian
suffering, self-denial, trial and persecution if there were no
resurrection? This connection with the previous argument helps us to
understand the much disputed statement "else what shall they do which are
baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then
baptized for the dead?" It is said that some thirty different
interpretations of this statement are in existence, most of them so
fanciful and strained that they merit no further mention. Some say it meant
those who were about to be baptized and others believe it has a meaning
concerning those who had relatives who had died unbaptized. There is no
need of inventing these theories. If we look at it in the most simple way
the difficulty disappears. They had been baptized and taken the place as
being dead with Christ. In this sense they had been baptized for the dead.
But if the dead rise not, then this ordinance, which is so closely
connected in a symbolical way with death and resurrection, has no meaning
and value at all.

     "Baptized, then, for the dead is to become a Christian with the view
fixed on those who have fallen asleep in Christ, and particularly as being
slain for Him, taking one's portion with the dead, yea, with the dead
Christ; it is the very meaning of baptism (Romans 6). How senseless if they
do not rise! As in 1 Thessalonians 4, the subject, while speaking of all
Christians, is looked at in the same way. The word translated 'for' is
frequently used in these epistles for 'in view of,' 'with reference to.'"
(Synopsis of the Bible)

     Then those who had been affected by these doubts about resurrection
asked questions concerning the resurrection of the body and the process of
resurrection. How are the dead raised? And with what body do they come? But
he brands as folly their doubting reasonings. There are of course,
difficulties for reason but none for faith. If God's omnipotent power is
admitted and believed every difficulty vanishes. Their difficulties and
objections were not of faith. Nature and God's works give abundant evidence
of the resurrection of the body. There will be in resurrection a continuity
of identity.

     "They sowed but bare grain, whether wheat or any other, but they knew
quite well that that grain was not to continue grain, but that it would
soon be clothed with a body very different from that which it had when sown
in the earth. God gave it the body that He had willed for it, and to every
seed its own kind of body. Thus, the individuality of what was sown was
maintained all through, in spite of disorganization. God in it, as in
innumerable cases in nature, has stamped things everywhere with His own
stamp of resurrection. Things are in His hand. You may call the process
natural because you are so familiar with it, because it is so constantly
taking place under your eyes. All the same, God is working in it and
through it.

     "And what advantage would it have, if there were no resurrection, by
dying daily, denying self, passing through all kinds of trials, suffering
persecution and fighting, as Paul had done at Ephesus, with wild beasts? If
there were no resurrection, then man is like the beast: let us eat and
drink, for tomorrow we die. That which looks so merely lifeless has,
nevertheless, in itself the determination of its future life. No seed
produces anything else, but its own kind, and yet how different is that
which springs out of it from the seed out of which it springs!" (Numerical

     True from all this we learn that the resurrection of the same body is
promised and while its identity is preserved it will be a different body at
the same time. So then is the resurrection of the dead.

     (All through this resurrection chapter only the resurrection of
believers is in view. Nothing is said about the resurrection of the wicked
dead. They too will be raised as to the body to exist forever in the
dreadful condition of eternal punishment.)

     It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in
dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in
power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. What kind
of a body will it be, this spiritual body? Scripture gives the answer. "Who
shall change our body of humiliation that it may be fashioned like unto His
glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue
all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3:21). We shall be like Him for we shall
see Him as He is.

     Now our blessed Lord was not raised from the dead with an ethereal,
airy body. His was a real human body of flesh and bones. He ate in the
presence of His disciples; He was able to take food, though He needed none.
He was capable of passing through closed doors and was in nowise limited by
earthly conditions, such as space. And even so will be the spiritual body
of the risen believers. Not a spirit phantom, but a spiritual body in its
adaptation to the spirit. As we have now a natural body which is suited for
an earth-life, so the believer shall have a body suited for a glory-life.
We shall be like Him to be with Him in eternal glory and in these wonderful
bodies we shall rule and reign with Him.

     "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (verse 50).
It simply means that man as he is here below cannot inherit God's kingdom.
It does not mean the kingdom which will some day be established on earth in
which converted Israel and converted nations will be the subjects. It means
the kingdom of God on the other side of death. The kingdom on earth for a
thousand years will be an earthly thing; the kingdom mentioned in this
verse is the kingdom of God in glory.

     "The blood applies to the present life. It is the vehicle of change.
It is that which implies the need of continual sustenance and renewal. A
body which needs no renewal cannot need blood to renew it, and thus the
Lord speaks of Himself as risen from the dead, not as having flesh and
blood, but as having flesh and bones. "A spirit hath not flesh and bones,"
He says, "as ye see Me have." He has poured out His blood and left it with
the earthly life that He had lived. He has entered upon a new sphere,
retaining all that makes Him truly man, but not the conditions of the old
earthly life. The conditions are changed. Flesh and blood are not suited
for the kingdom of God in this sense of it. He is not, of course, in the
least implying that there is any evil in flesh and blood."

     And what a change it will be for God's redeemed people to receive
these wonderful bodies of glory and enter into the kingdom of God in glory!
And when will it come? Paul writes of a mystery.

     (The teachers who say that there is no such thing as a Coming of the
Lord for His Saints may well pause at this word "mystery." They teach that
this coming here, when the dead shall be raised and living believers shall
be changed, is the visible Coming of Christ at the end of the great
tribulation. But this visible Coming is the revelation which is found in
the entire Old Testament prophetic Word. It was and is not a mystery. But
the Coming of the Lord for His Saints, who are to be caught up in clouds to
meet Him in the air, is a new Revelation, unknown in former ages.)

     We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall be changed. It will be a
sudden thing. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. It will be at the
last trump. This trumpet has nothing whatever to do with the seventh
trumpet in Revelation. Before any trumpet has sounded, before the Lamb of
God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, opens the seals, He comes for His
Saints "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." The trumpet is a military
term. The first trumpet bade the armies to arise and be ready; the last
trumpet commanded them to depart, it was the signal to march. When that
shout (1 Thess. 4:13-18) comes from the air and He comes for His Saints,
the dead (the dead in Christ, only those who believed) will be raised
incorruptible. And "we shall be changed." The Apostle did not write "they"
shall be changed. He expected not death, but the blessed Hope for himself
and the Corinthians was the change in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
which means translation and not death. He speaks of the dead when he writes
"for this corruption must put on incorruption." He speaks of living
believers in these words: "this mortal must Put on immortality." This gives
the true meaning of Romans 8:11. The coming of the Lord is the Hope of the
church. And then we have the shout of victory. And what manner of lives we
should live and what manner of service should be ours in view of such a
destiny, such glory, which in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, may
burst upon us! "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your
labor is not vain in the Lord."

                      2. Exhortations and Conclusion.

                                CHAPTER 16

     1. Concerning Collections. (16:1-4)
     2. Ministry. (16:5-18)
     3. Greetings. (16:19-24)

     First, in concluding this Epistle, he writes them about collections
for the Saints. The same directions, he had given to the assemblies in
Galatia. The collection for the Saints was to be taken on the first day of
the week in connection with the remembrance of Him who had said, "it is
more blessed to give than to receive." He did not want to have any
collections when he came, His presence might have influenced them in some
way and he wanted to avoid this. How different is the collection-system in
the professing church of today! No unsaved person should be permitted to
give anything for the Lord's work; only the Saints can give acceptably. It
is an unscriptural thing to go to the world, which lieth in the wicked one,
and ask support and help from the unregenerated. God's blessing cannot rest
upon this. (Other unscriptural methods are those which raise funds by
entertainments, suppers, etc., and then the appeals which are often made by
Evangelists and others, the influences which are used to obtain the largest
results! All this is condemned by the simple and brief instruction about
collections in this chapter.)

     Then he writes of his plans. He was tarrying in Ephesus until
Pentecost. A great and effectual door had been opened unto him and there
were many adversaries. It is still so. Whenever the Lord opens a door and
His Spirit works we may well expect the opposition of the adversary. But
may we also remember His gracious promise to those who are in Philadelphian
condition of Soul (Rev. 3:7). If we have a little strength, if we keep His
Word and do not deny His Name, He will still open doors and no power can
shut them. He will keep the door of service open as long as it pleases Him.

     Solemn is the final statement after the greetings. "If any man love
not the Lord Jesus, let him be Anathema Maranatha. The words "Anathema
Maranatha" mean "Accursed--Our Lord cometh." And accursed will be any man
who has rejected the Love and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It shows
that some in the Corinthian assembly may have been mere professing
Christians without ever having tasted the love of Christ. Then the final
word "The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in
Christ Jesus."

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