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Commentary On Corinthians Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

1 Corinthians 2:1-2

1. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

1. Et ego, quum venissem ad vos, fratres, veni non in excellentia sermonis vel sapientiae, annuntians vobis testimonium Dei.

2. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

2. Non enim eximium duxi, (vel, duxi pro scientia,) scire quicquam inter vos, nisi Iesum Christum, et hunc crucifixum.

1. And I, when I came Paul having begun to speak of his own method of teaching, had straightway fallen into a discussion as to the nature of gospel preaching generally. Now again he returns to speak of himself, to show that nothing in him was despised but what belonged to the nature of the gospel itself, and did in a manner adhere to it. He allows therefore that he had not had any of the aids of human eloquence or wisdom to qualify him for producing any effect, but while he acknowledges himself to be destitute of such resources, he hints at the inference to be drawn from this -- that the power of God shone the more illustriously in his ministry, from its standing in no need of such helps. This latter idea, however, he will be found bringing forward shortly afterwards. For the present he simply grants that he has nothing of human wisdom, and in the meantime reserves to himself this much -- that he published the testimony of God Some interpreters, indeed, explain the testimony of God in a passive sense; but as for myself, I have no doubt that another interpretation is more in accordance with the Apostle's design, so that the testimony of God is that which has come forth from God -- the doctrine of the gospel, of which he is the author and witness. He now distinguishes between speech and wisdom (logon apo tos sophias.) Hence what I noticed before is here confirmed -- that hitherto he has not been speaking of mere empty prattling, but has included the entire training of human learning.

2. For I did not reckon it desirable. As krinein, in Greek, has often the same meaning as eklegein, that is to choose out anything as precious, there is, I think, no person of sound judgment but will allow that the rendering that I have given is a probable one, provided only the construction admits of it. At the same time, if we render it thus -- |No kind of knowledge did I hold in esteem,| there will be nothing harsh in this rendering. If you understand something to be supplied, the sentence will run smoothly enough in this way -- |Nothing did I value myself upon, as worth my knowing, or on the ground of knowledge.| At the same time I do not altogether reject a different interpretation -- viewing Paul as declaring that he esteemed nothing as knowledge, or as entitled to be called knowledge, except Christ alone. Thus the Greek preposition and, would, as often happens, require to be supplied. But whether the former interpretation is not disapproved of, or whether this latter pleases better, the substance of the passage amounts to this: |As to my wanting the ornaments of speech, and wanting, too, the more elegant refinements of discourse, the reason of this was, that I did not aspire at them, nay rather, I despised them, because there was one thing only that my heart was set upon -- that I might preach Christ with simplicity.|

In adding the word crucified, he does not mean that he preached nothing respecting Christ except the cross; but that, with all the abasement of the cross, he nevertheless preached Christ. It is as though he had said: |The ignominy of the cross will not prevent me from looking up to him from whom salvation comes, or make me ashamed to regard all my wisdom as comprehended in him -- in him, I say, whom proud men despise and reject on account of the reproach of the cross.| Hence the statement must be explained in this way: |No kind of knowledge was in my view of so much importance as to lead me to desire anything but Christ, crucified though he was.| This little clause is added by way of enlargement (auxesin,) with the view of galling so much the more those arrogant masters, by whom Christ was next to despised, as they were eager to gain applause by being renowned for a higher kind of wisdom. Here we have a beautiful passage, from which we learn what it is that faithful ministers ought to teach, what it is that we must, during our whole life, be learning, and in comparison with which everything else must be |counted as dung.| (Philippians 3:8.)

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