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Commentary On Corinthians Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

1 Corinthians 16:13-24

13. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

13. Vigilate, state in fide, viriliter agite, robusti estote.

14. Let all your things be done with charity.

14. Omnia vestra in caritate fiant.

15. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

15. Hortor autem vos, fratres, nostis domum Stephanae, primitias esse Achaiae, atque ut se in ministerium sanctorum ordinaverint:

16. That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

16. Ut etiam subiecti sitis tallbus, et omnibus qui cooperantur et laborant.

17. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on our part they have supplied.

17. Gaudeo autem de praesentia Stephanie, et Fortunati, et Achaici: quia quod deerat a vobis, ipsi suppleverunt.

18. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

18. Refocillarunt enim spiritum meum et vestrum: agnoscite ergo tales.

19. The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

19. Salutant vos Ecclesiae Asiae: salutant vos multum in Domino Aquila et Priscilla cum domestica eorum Ecclesia.

20. All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

20. Salutant vos fratres omnes: salutate vos invicem in osculo sancto.

21. The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.

21. Salutatio mea manu Pauli.

22. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

22. Si quis non amat Dominum Iesum Christum, sit anathema maranatha.

23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

23. Gratia Domini Iesu Christi sit vobiscum.

24. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

24. Dilectio mea cum vobis omnibus in Christo Iesu. Amen.

The first epistle to the Corinthians was written from Philippi by Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus, and Timotheus.

Ad Corinthios prior missa fuit e Philippis per Stephanam, et Fortunatum, et Andronicum, et Timotheum.

13. Watch ye. A short exhortation, but of great weight. He exhorts them to watch, in order that Satan may not oppress them, finding them off their guard. For as the warfare is incessant, the watching requires to be incessant too. Now watchfulness of spirit is this -- when, free and disentangled from earthly cares, we meditate on the things of God. For as the body is weighed down by surfeiting and drunkenness, (Luke 21:34,) so as to be fit for nothing, so the cares and lusts of the world, idleness or carelessness, are like a spiritual surfeiting that overpowers the mind.

The second thing is that they persevere in the faith, or that they hold fast the faith, so as to stand firm; because that is the foundation on which we rest. It is certain, however, that he points out the means of perseverance -- by resting upon God with a firm faith.

In the third exhortation, which is much of the same nature, he stirs them up to manly fortitude. And, as we are naturally weak, he exhorts them fourthly to strengthen themselves, or gather strength. For where we render it be strong, Paul makes use of only one word, which is equivalent to strengthen yourselves.

14. Let all your things be done in love Again he repeats what is the rule in all those transactions, in which we have dealings with one another. He wishes, then, that love shall be the directress; because the Corinthians erred chiefly in this respect -- that every one looked to himself without caring for others.

15. Ye know the house of Stephanas We know, from daily experience, of what advantage it is, that those should have the highest authority, whom God has adorned with the most distinguished gifts. Accordingly, if we wish to secure the welfare of the Church, let us always take care that honor be conferred upon the good: let their counsels have the greatest weight; let others give way to them, and allow themselves to be governed by their prudence. This Paul does in this instance, when admonishing the Corinthians to show respect to the house of Stephanas. Some manuscripts add, and Fortunatus. For God manifests himself to us when he shows us the gifts of his Spirit. Hence, if we would not appear to be despisers of God, let us voluntarily submit ourselves to those, on whom God has conferred superior gifts.

Now, that they may be the more inclined to put honor upon that house, (for as to the other, it appears to me to be, in this place at least, a spurious addition,) he reminds them that they were the first-fruits of Achaia, that is, that the household of Stephanas were the first that had embraced the gospel. Not indeed as though the first in order of time were in every case superior to the others, but where there is perseverance along with this, it is with good reason, that honor is conferred upon those, who have in a manner paved the way for the gospel by promptitude of faith. It must be observed, however, that he dignifies with this honorable title those, who had consecrated to believers their services and resources. For the same reason, he bestows commendation a little afterwards upon Fortunatus and Achaicus, that, in proportion to a man's superiority of excellence, he might be held so much the more in esteem, that he might be able to do the more good. Farther, in order that the Corinthians may be the more disposed to love them, he says, that what had been wanting on the part of their entire Church had been compensated for by their vicarious services.

19. With the Church that is in their house A magnificent eulogium, inasmuch as the name of the Church is applied to a single family! At the same time it is befitting, that all the families of the pious should be regulated in such a manner as to be so many little Churches. As to the term Congregation, which Erasmus has used in preference, it is foreign to Paul's design; for it was not his intention to designate a crowd of persons by a mere common term, but to speak in honorable terms of the management of a Christian household. His saluting them in the name of Aquila and Priscilla, confirms what I have noticed above -- that the Epistle was written at Ephesus, not at Philippi. For Luke informs us, that they remained at Ephesus, when Paul went elsewhere. (Acts 18:19.)

20. Salute one another with a holy kiss. The practice of kissing was very common among the Jews, as is manifest from the Scriptures. In Greece, though it was not so common and customary, it was by no means unknown; but the probability is, that Paul speaks here of a solemn kiss, with which they saluted each other in the sacred assembly. For I could easily believe, that from the times of the Apostles a kiss was used in connection with the administration of the Supper; in place of which, among nations that were somewhat averse to the practice of kissing, there crept in the custom of kissing the patine. However this may be, as it was a token of mutual love. I have no doubt, that Paul meant to exhort them to the cultivation of good-will among themselves -- not merely in their minds and in needful services, but also by that token, provided only it was holy, that is, neither unchaste nor deceitful, -- though, at the same time, holy may be taken to mean sacred.

22. If any man love not the Lord Jesus The close of the Epistle consists of three parts. He entreats the grace of Christ in behalf of the Corinthians: he makes a declaration of his love towards them, and, with the severest threatening, he inveighs against those that falsely took upon themselves the Lord's name, while not loving him from the heart. For he is not speaking of strangers, who avowedly hated the Christian name, but of pretenders and hypocrites, who troubled the Churches for the sake of their own belly, or from empty boasting. On such persons he denounces an anathema, and he also pronounces a curse upon them. It is not certain, however, whether he desires their destruction in the presence of God, or whether he wishes to render them odious -- nay, even execrable, in the view of believers. Thus in Galatians 1:8, when pronouncing one who corrupts the Gospel to be accursed, he does not mean that he was rejected or condemned by God, but he declares that he is to be abhorred by us. I expound it in a simple way as follows: |Let them perish and be cut off, as being the pests of the Church.| And truly, there is nothing that is more pernicious, than that class of persons, who prostitute a profession of piety to their own depraved affections. Now he points out the origin of this evil, when he says, that they do not love Christ, for a sincere and earnest love to Christ will not suffer us to give occasion of offense to brethren.

What he immediately adds -- Maranatha, is somewhat more difficult. Almost all of the ancients are agreed, that they are Syriac terms. Jerome, however, explains it: The Lord cometh; while others render it, At the coming of the Lord, or, Until the Lord comes. Every one, however, I think, must see how silly and puerile is the idea, that the Apostle spoke to Greeks in the Syriac tongue, when meaning to say -- The Lord has come. Those who translate it, at the coming of the Lord, do so on mere conjecture; and besides, there is not much plausibility in that interpretation. How much more likely it is, that this was a customary form of expression among the Hebrews, when they wished to excommunicate any one. For the Apostles never speak in foreign tongues, except when they repeat anything in the person of another, as for example, Eli, Eli, lammah sabathani, (Matthew 27:46,) Talitha cumi, (Mark 5:41,) and Ephphata, (Mark 7:34,) or when they make use of a word that has come into common use, as Amen -- Hosanna. Let us see, then, whether Maranatha suits with excommunication. Now Bullinger, on the authority of Theodore Bibliander, has affirmed, that, in the Chaldee dialect, Maharamata has the same meaning as the Hebrew term chrm, cherem, (accursed,) and I was myself at one time assured of the same thing by Wolfgang Capito, a man of blessed memory It is nothing unusual, however, for the Apostles to write such terms differently from the way in which they are pronounced in the language from which they are derived; as may be seen even from the instances brought forward above. Paul, then, after pronouncing an anathema on those who do not love Christ, deeply affected with the seriousness of the matter, as if he reckoned that he had not said enough, added a term that was in common use among the Jews, and which they made use of in pronouncing a sentence of anathema -- just as if, speaking in Latin, I should say, |I excommunicate thee,| but if I add -- |and pronounce thee an anathema,| this would be an expression of more intense feeling.


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