1 Corinthians 3:21
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
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(21) Therefore.—Not because of what has been mentioned, but introducing what he is about to mention. Let party-spirit cease. Do not degrade yourselves by calling yourselves after the names of any man, for everything is yours—then teachers only exist for you. The enthusiasm of the Apostle, as he speaks of the privileges of Christians, leads him on beyond the bare assertion necessary to the logical conclusion of the argument, and enlarging the idea he dwells, in a few brief and impressive utterances, on the limitless possessions—in life and in death, in the present life and that which is future—which belong to those who are united with Christ. But they must remember that all this is theirs because they “are Christ’s.” They are possessors because possessed by Him. “His service is their perfect freedom” as the Collect in the English Prayer Book puts it, or, more strikingly, as it occurs in the Latin version, “Whom to serve, is to reign.”

1 Corinthians



1 Corinthians 3:21 - 1 Corinthians 3:22

What Jesus Christ is to a man settles what everything else is to Him. Our relation to Jesus determines our relation to the universe. If we belong to Him, everything belongs to us. If we are His servants, all things are our servants. The household of Jesus, which is the whole Creation, is not divided against itself, and the fellow-servants do not beat one another. Two bodies moving in the same direction, and under the impulse of the same force, cannot come into collision, and since ‘all things work together,’ according to the counsel of His will, ‘all things work together for good’ to His lovers. The triumphant words of my text are no piece of empty rhetoric, but the plain result of two facts-Christ’s rule and the Christian’s submission. ‘All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s,’ so the stars in their courses fight against those who fight against Him, and if we are at peace with Him we shall ‘make a league with the beasts of the field, and the stones of the field,’ which otherwise would be hindrances and stumbling-blocks, ‘shall be at peace with’ us.

The Apostle carries his confidence in the subservience of all things to Christ’s servants very far, and the words of my text, in which he dares to suggest that ‘the Shadow feared of man’ is, after all, a veiled friend, are hard to believe, when we are brought face to face with death, either when we meditate on our own end, or when our hearts are sore and our hands are empty. Then the question comes, and often is asked with tears of blood, Is it true that this awful force, which we cannot command, does indeed serve us? Did it serve those whom it dragged from our sides; and in serving them, did it serve us? Paul rings out his ‘Yes’; and if we have as firm a hold of Paul’s Lord as Paul had, our answer will be the same. Let me, then, deal with this great thought that lies here, of the conversion of the last enemy into a friend, the assurance that we may all have that death is ours, though not in the sense that we can command it, yet in the sense that it ministers to our highest good.

That thought may be true about ourselves when it comes to our turn to die, and, thank God, has been true about all those who have departed in His faith and fear. Some of you may have seen two very striking engravings by a great, though somewhat unknown artist, representing Death as the Destroyer, and Death as the Friend. In the one case he comes into a scene of wild revelry, and there at his feet lie, stark and stiff, corpses in their gay clothing and with garlands on their brows, and feasters and musicians are flying in terror from the cowled Skeleton. In the other he comes into a quiet church belfry, where an aged saint sits with folded arms and closed eyes, and an open Bible by his side, and endless peace upon the wearied face. The window is flung wide to the sunrise, and on its sill perches a bird that gives forth its morning song. The cowled figure has brought rest to the weary, and the glad dawning of a new life to the aged, and is a friend. The two pictures are better than all the poor words that I can say. It depends on the people to whom he comes, whether he comes as a destroyer or as a helper. Of course, for all of us the mere physical facts remain the same, the pangs and the pain, the slow torture of the loosing of the bond, or the sharp agony of its instantaneous rending apart. But we have gone but a very little way into life and its experiences, if we have not learnt that identity of circumstances may cover profound difference of essentials, and that the same experiences may have wholly different messages and meanings to two people who are equally implicated in them. Thus, while the physical fact remains the same for all, the whole bearing of it may so differ that Death to one man will be a Destroyer, while to another it is a Friend.

For, if we come to analyse the thoughts of humanity about the last act in human life on earth, what is it that makes the dread darkness of death, which all men know, though they so seldom think of it? I suppose, first of all, if we seek to question our feelings, that which makes Death a foe to the ordinary experience is, that it is like a step off the edge of a precipice in a fog; a step into a dim condition of which the imagination can form no conception, because it has no experience, and all imagination’s pictures are painted with pigments drawn from our past. Because it is impossible for a man to have any clear vision of what it is that is coming to meet him, and he cannot tell ‘in that sleep what dreams may come,’ he shrinks, as we all shrink, from a step into the vast Inane, the dim Unknown. But the Gospel comes and says, ‘It is a land of great darkness,’ but ‘To the people that sit in darkness a great light hath shined.’

‘Our knowledge of that life is small,

The eye of faith is dim.’

But faith has an eye, and there is light, and this we can see-One face whose brightness scatters all the gloom, One Person who has not ceased to be the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His beams, even in the darkness of the grave. Therefore, one at least of the repellent features which, to the timorous heart, makes Death a foe, is gone, when we know that the known Christ fills the Unknown.

Then, again, another of the elements, as I suppose, which constitute the hostile aspect that Death assumes to most of us, is that it apparently hales us away from all the wholesome activities and occupations of life, and bans us into a state of apparent inaction. The thought that death is rest does sometimes attract the weary or harassed, or they fancy it does, but that is a morbid feeling, and much more common in sentimental epitaphs than among the usual thoughts of men. To most of us there is no joy, but a chill, in the anticipation that all the forms of activity which have so occupied, and often enriched, our lives here, are to be cut off at once. ‘What am I to do if I have no books?’ says the student. ‘What am I to do if I have no mill?’ says the spinner. ‘What am I to do if I have no nursery or kitchen?’ say the women. What are you to do? There is only one quieting answer to such questions. It tells us that what we are doing here is learning our trade, and that we are to be moved into another workshop there, to practise it. Nothing can bereave us of the force we made our own, being here; and ‘there is nobler work for us to do’ when the Master of all the servants stoops from His Throne and says: ‘Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; have thou authority over ten cities.’ Then the faithfulness of the steward will be exchanged for the authority of the ruler, and the toil of the servant for a share in the joy of the Lord.

So another of the elements which make Death an enemy is turned into an element which makes it a friend, and instead of the separation from this earthly body, the organ of our activity and the medium of our connection with the external universe being the condemnation of the naked spirit to inaction, it is the emancipation of the spirit into greater activity. For nothing drops away at death that does not make a man the richer for its loss, and when the dross is purged from the silver, there remains ‘a vessel unto honour, fit for the Master’s use.’ This mightier activity is the contribution to our blessedness, which Death makes to them who use their activities here in Christ’s service.

Then, still further, another of the elements which is converted from being a terror into a joy is that Death, the separator, becomes to Christ’s servants Death, the uniter. We all know how that function of death is perhaps the one that makes us shrink from it the most, dread it the most, and sometimes hate it the most. But it will be with us as it was with those who were to be initiated into ancient religious rites. Blindfolded, they were led by a hand that grasped theirs but was not seen, through dark, narrow, devious passages, but they were led into a great company in a mighty hall. Seen from this side, the ministry of Death parts a man from dear ones, but, oh! if we could see round the turn in the corridor, we should see that the solitude is but for a moment, and that the true office of Death is not so much to part from those beloved on earth as to carry to, and unite with, Him that is best Beloved in the heavens, and in Him with all His saints. They that are joined to Christ, as they who pass from earth are joined, are thereby joined to all who, in like manner, are knit to Him. Although other dear bonds are loosed by the bony fingers of the Skeleton, his very loosing of them ties more closely the bond that unites us to Jesus, and when the dull ear of the dying has ceased to hear the voices of earth that used to thrill it in their lowest whisper, I suppose it hears another Voice that says: ‘When thou passest through the fire I will be with thee, and through the waters they shall not overflow thee.’ Thus the Separator unites, first to Jesus, and then to ‘the general assembly and Church of the first-born,’ and leads into the city of the living God, the pilgrims who long have lived, often isolated, in the desert.

There is a last element in Death which is changed for the Christian, and that is that to men generally, when they think about it, there is an instinctive recoil from Death, because there is an instinctive suspicion that after Death is the Judgment, and that, somehow or other-never mind about the drapery in which the idea may be embodied for our weakness-when a man dies he passes to a state where he will reap the consequences of what he has sown here. But to Christ’s servant that last thought is robbed of its sting, and all the poison sucked out of it, for he can say: ‘He that died for me makes it possible for me to die undreading, and to pass thither, knowing that I shall meet as my Judge Him whom I have trusted as my Saviour, and so may have boldness before Him in the Day of Judgment.’

Knit these four contrasts together. Death as a step into a dim unknown versus Death as a step into a region lighted by Jesus; Death as the cessation of activity versus Death as the introduction to nobler opportunities, and the endowment with nobler capacities of service; Death as the separator and isolator versus Death as uniting to Jesus and all His lovers; Death as haling us to the judgment-seat of the adversary versus Death as bringing us to the tribunal of the Christ; and I think we can understand how Christians can venture to say, ‘All things are ours, whether life or death’ which leads to a better life.

And now let me add one word more. All this that I have been saying, and all the blessed strength for ourselves and calming in our sorrows which result therefrom, stand or fall with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is nothing else that makes these things certain. There are, of course, instincts, peradventures, hopes, fears, doubts. But in this region, and in regard to all this cycle of truths, the same thing applies which applies round the whole horizon of Christian Revelation-if you want not speculations but certainties, you have to go to Jesus Christ for them. There were many men who thought that there were islands of the sea beyond the setting sun that dyed the western waves, but Columbus went and came back again, and brought their products-and then the thought became a fact. Unless you believe that Jesus Christ has come back from ‘the bourne from which no traveller returns,’ and has come laden with the gifts of ‘happy isles of Eden’ far beyond the sea, there is no certitude upon which a dying man can lay his head, or by which a bleeding heart can be staunched. But when He draws near, alive from the dead, and says to us, as He did to the disciples on the evening of the day of Resurrection, ‘Peace be unto you,’ and shows us His hands and His side, then we do not only speculate or think a future life possible or probable, or hesitate to deny it, or hope or fear, as the case may be, but we know, and we can say: ‘All things are ours . . . death’ amongst others. The fact that Jesus Christ has died changes the whole aspect of death to His servant, inasmuch as in that great solitude he has a companion, and in the valley of the shadow of death sees footsteps that tell him of One that went before.

Nor need I do more than remind you how the manner of our Lord’s death shows that He is Lord not only of the dead but of the Death that makes them dead. For His own tremendous assertion, ‘I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again,’ was confirmed by His attitude and His words at the last, as is hinted at by the very expressions with which the Evangelists record the fact of His death: ‘He yielded up His spirit,’ ‘He gave up the ghost,’ ‘He breathed out His life.’ It is confirmed to us by such words as those remarkable ones of the Apocalypse, which speak of Him as ‘the Living One,’ who, by His own will, ‘became dead.’ He died because He would, and He would die because He loved you and me. And in dying, He showed Himself to be, not the Victim, but the Conqueror, of the Death to which He submitted. The Jewish king on the fatal field of Gilboa called his sword-bearer, and the servant came, and Saul bade him smite, and when his trembling hand shrank from such an act, the king fell on his own sword. The Lord of life and death summoned His servant Death, and He came obedient, but Jesus died not by Death’s stroke, but by His own act. So that Lord of Death, who died because He would, is the Lord who has the keys of death and the grave. In regard to one servant He says, ‘I will that he tarry till I come,’ and that man lives through a century, and in regard to another He says, ‘Follow thou Me,’ and that man dies on a cross. The dying Lord is Lord of Death, and the living Lord is for us all the Prince of Life.

Brethren, we have to take His yoke upon us by the act of faith which leads to a love that issues in an obedience which will become more and more complete, as we become more fully Christ’s. Then death will be ours, for then we shall count that the highest good for us will be fuller union with, a fuller possession of, and a completer conformity to, Jesus Christ our King, and that whatever brings us these, even though it brings also pain and sorrow and much from which we shrink, is all on our side. It is possible-may it be so with each of us!-that for us Death may be, not an enemy that bans us into darkness and inactivity, or hales us to a judgment-seat, but the Angel who wakes us, at whose touch the chains fall off, and who leads us through ‘the iron gate that opens of its own accord,’ and brings us into the City.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23. Therefore — Upon the whole, considering all that has been advanced, and especially considering in what view the great God regards these things which we are so ready to value ourselves upon; let no man glory in men — So as to divide into parties on their account; for all things are yours — And we in particular. We are not your lords, but rather your servants: whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas — We are all equally yours, to serve you for Christ’s sake: or the world — This leap, from Peter to the world, greatly enlarges the thought, and argues a kind of impatience of enumerating the rest. Peter, and every one in the whole world, however excellent in gifts, or grace, or office, are also your servants for Christ’s sake; or life or death — These, with all their various circumstances, are disposed as will be most for your advantage; or things present — On earth, or things to come — In heaven. Contend therefore no more about these little things, but be ye united in love as ye are in blessings. And ye are Christ’s — His property, his subjects, his members; and Christ is God’s — As Mediator, he acted as his Father’s servant, and referred all his services to his Father’s glory. Others understand the passage thus: “All things are appointed for your good, and ye are appointed for Christ’s honour, and Christ for God’s glory.”

3:18-23 To have a high opinion of our own wisdom, is but to flatter ourselves; and self-flattery is the next step to self-deceit. The wisdom that wordly men esteem, is foolishness with God. How justly does he despise, and how easily can he baffle and confound it! The thoughts of the wisest men in the world, have vanity, weakness, and folly in them. All this should teach us to be humble, and make us willing to be taught of God, so as not to be led away, by pretences to human wisdom and skill, from the simple truths revealed by Christ. Mankind are very apt to oppose the design of the mercies of God. Observe the spiritual riches of a true believer; All are yours, even ministers and ordinances. Nay, the world itself is yours. Saints have as much of it as Infinite Wisdom sees fit for them, and they have it with the Divine blessing. Life is yours, that you may have a season and opportunity to prepare for the life of heaven; and death is yours, that you may go to the possession of it. It is the kind messenger to take you from sin and sorrow, and to guide you to your Father's house. Things present are yours, for your support on the road; things to come are yours, to delight you for ever at your journey's end. If we belong to Christ, and are true to him, all good belongs to us, and is sure to us. Believers are the subjects of his kingdom. He is Lord over us, we must own his dominion, and cheerfully submit to his command. God in Christ, reconciling a sinful world to himself, and pouring the riches of his grace on a reconciled world, is the sum and substance of the gospel.Therefore ... - Paul here proceeds to apply the principles which he had stated above. Since all were ministers or servants of God; since God was the source of all good influences; since, whatever might be the pretensions to wisdom among people, it was all foolishness in the sight of God, the inference was clear, that no man should glory in man. They were all alike poor, frail, ignorant, erring, dependent beings. And hence, also, as all wisdom came from God, and as Christians partook Alike of the benefits of the instruction of the most eminent apostles, they ought to regard this as belonging to them in common, and not to form parties with these names at the head.

Let no man glory in men; - See 1 Corinthians 1:29; compare Jeremiah 9:23-24. It was common among the Jews to range themselves under different leaders - as Hillel and Shammai; and for the Greeks, also, to boast themselves to be the followers of Pythagoras, Zeno, Plato, etc. The same thing began to be manifest in the Christian church; and Paul here rebukes and opposes it.

For all things are yours - This is a reason why they should not range themselves in parties or factions under different leaders. Paul specifies what he means by "all things" in the following verses. The sense is, that since they had an interest in all that could go to promote their welfare; as they were common partakers of the benefits of the talents and labors of the apostles; and as they belonged to Christ, and all to God, it was improper to be split up into factions, as if they derived any special benefit; from one set of persons, or one set of objects. In Paul, in Apollos, in life, death, etc. they had a common interest, and no one should boast that he had any special proprietorship in any of these things.

21. let no man glory in men—resuming the subject from 1Co 3:4; compare 1Co 1:12, 31, where the true object of glorying is stated: "He that glorieth, let him glory in THE Lord." Also 1Co 4:6, "That no one of you be puffed up for one against another."

For all things—not only all men. For you to glory thus in men, is lowering yourselves from your high position as heirs of all things. All men (including your teachers) belong to Christ, and therefore to you, by your union with Him; He makes them and all things work together for your good (Ro 8:28). Ye are not for the sake of them, but they for the sake of you (2Co 4:5, 15). They belong to you, not you to them.

Seeing, therefore, that Christ is but one, his ministers but one, and no more than ministers by whom ye believed, 1 Corinthians 3:5; and the principal efficiency of any saving work begun, or carried on in your souls to any degree of perfection, is from God, and the minister’s work in that effect nothing compared with his; seeing you are God’s husbandry, God’s building, not merely man’s, and the temple of God, not men’s temple; leave your glorying in men, and saying l am of Paul, or I am of Apollos; glory only in this, that ye are Christ’s: besides, all things are yours; why do you glory in a particular minister, when all is yours? As if two joint-heirs in an estate should glory in this or that particular house or enclosure, when the whole estate is jointly theirs, all theirs.

Therefore let no man glory in men,.... The apostle means ministers, who are but men, even the best of them, and therefore not to be gloried in; and has chiefly respect to the false teachers, whose wisdom, learning, and eloquence, the Corinthians were greatly taken with, and boasted of; it was so ensnaring to them, that they even idolized them for it, called them their masters, pinned their faith on their sleeve, gave up themselves to them, and were greatly under their authority, influence, and direction, which is here condemned; and which was so far from being right, that they ought not to behave in such manner to the best of ministers, nor to glory in anyone above another; no, not in Paul, nor Apollos, nor Cephas;

for all things are yours; all the ministers, and all they are endowed with; these were all for their use and service, for their benefit and advantage; wherefore it was very wrong to set up one above, or against another, or for any party to engross anyone minister, when he belonged to them all; and great weakness to reject others, when they had a common right and property in them.

{11} Therefore let no man {h} glory in men. For all things are {i} yours;

(11) He returns to the proposition of the second verse, first warning the hearers, that from now on they do not esteem as lords those whom God has appointed to be ministers and not lords of their salvation. This is done by those that depend upon men, and not upon God that speaks by them.

(h) Please himself.

(i) Helps, appointed for your benefit.

1 Corinthians 3:21. Ὥστε] Hence, that is to say, because this world’s wisdom, this source of your καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ἀνθρώποις (see 1 Corinthians 3:18), is nothing but folly before God, 1 Corinthians 3:19-20. According to Hofmann, ὥστε draws its inference from the whole section, 1 Corinthians 3:10-20. But μηδεὶς καυχάσθω κ.τ.λ[564] manifestly corresponds to the warning μηδεὶς ἑαυτ. ἐξαπ. κ.τ.λ[565] in 1 Corinthians 3:18, from the discussion of which (1 Corinthians 3:19 f.) there is now deduced the parallel warning beginning with ὭΣΤΕ (1 Corinthians 3:21); and this again is finally confirmed by a sublime representation of the position held by a Christian (1 Corinthians 3:22 f.).

ἘΝ ἈΝΘΡΏΠΟΙς] “id pertinet ad extenuandum,” Bengel; the opposite of ἘΝ ΚΥΡΊῼ, 1 Corinthians 1:31. Human teachers are meant, upon whom the different parties prided themselves against each other (1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 1:12). Comp 1 Corinthians 4:6. Billroth renders wrongly: on account of men, whom he has subjected to himself and formed into a sect. Εἴτε ΠαῦλοςΚηφᾶς in 1 Corinthians 3:22 is decisive against this; for how strangely forced it is to make ΜΗΔΕΊς refer to the teachers, and ὑμῶν to the church!

The imperative after ὥστε (comp 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Corinthians 10:12; Php 2:12) is not governed by that word, but the dependent statement beginning with ὥστε changes to the direct. See Hermann, a[568] Viger. p. 852; Bremi, a[569] Dem. Phil. III. p. 276; Klotz, a[570] Devar. p. 776.

ΠΆΝΤΑ ΓᾺΡ ὙΜῶΝ ἘΣΤΙΝ] with the emphasis on ΠΆΝΤΑ: nothing excepted, all belongs to you as your property; so that to boast yourselves of men, consequently, who as party leaders are to be your property to the exclusion of others, is something quite foreign to your high position as Christians. Observe that we are not to explain as if it ran: ὑμῶν γὰρ πάντα ἐστιν (“illa vestra sunt, non vos illorum,” Bengel); but that the apostle has in view some form of party-confession, as, for example, “Paul is mine,” or “Cephas is my man,” and the like. It was thus that some boasted themselves of individual personages as their property, in opposition to the πάντα ὑμ. . It may be added that what is conveyed in this ΠΆΝΤΑ ὙΜῶΝ ἘΣΤΙΝ is not “the miraculous nature of the love, which is shed abroad in the hearts of believers by the Spirit, in virtue of which the man embraces the whole world, and enjoys as his own possession whatever in it is beautiful and glorious” (ΠΆΝΤΑ?), as is the view of Olshausen; but rather, in accordance with the diverse character of the objects thereafter enumerated, the twofold idea, that all things are destined in reality to serve the best interests of the Christians (comp Romans 8:28 ff.), and consequently to be in an ethical sense their possession,[572] and that the actual κληρονομία τοῦ κόσμου (Romans 4:13 f.) is allotted to them in the Messianic kingdom. Comp 4 Esdr 9:14. The saying of the philosophers: “Omnia sapientis esse” (see Wetstein), is a lower and imperfect analogue of this Christian idea.

[564] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[565] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[568] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[569] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[570] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[572] Hence Luther in his gloss rightly infers: “Therefore no man hath power to make laws over Christians to bind their consciences.”

1 Corinthians 3:21 a. ὥστε μηδεὶς καυχάσθω ἐν ἀνθρώποις: “And so let no one glory in men”.—ὥστε often, with P., introduces the impv[617] at the point where argument or explanation passes into exhortation; cf. note on 1 Corinthians 3:7, and see 1 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Corinthians 5:8, etc.—ἐν ἀνθρώποις states the forbidden ground of boasting (see parls.), supplying the negative counterpart of 1 Corinthians 1:31. Paul condemns alike the self-laudation of clever teachers, hinted at in 1 Corinthians 3:18, and the admiration rendered to them, along with all partisan applause.

[617] imperative mood.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 form an unbroken chain, linking the Cor[618] and their teachers to the throne of God. Not till the last words of 1 Corinthians 3:23 do we find the full justification (sustaining the initial γάρ) for the prohibition of 1 Corinthians 3:21 a; “only when the other side to the πάντα ὑμῶν has been expressed, is the object presented in which alone the Church ought to glory” (Hf[619]); standing by itself, “All things are yours” would be a reason in favour of, rather than against, glorying in human power. The saying of 1 Corinthians 3:21 b is, very possibly, taken from the lips of the Cor[620] δοκοῦντες (1 Corinthians 3:18), who talked in the high-flown Stoic style, affirming like Zeno (in Diog. Laert., vii., 1. 25), τῶν σοφῶν πάντα εἶναι, or daring with Seneca (de Benef., vii., 2 f.) “emittere hanc vocem, Haec omnia mea esse!” similarly the Stoic in Horace (Sat. I., iii., 125–133; Ep. I., i., 106 ff.): “Sapiens uno minor est Jove, dives, liber, honoratus, pulcher, rex denique regum!” Some such pretentious vein is hinted at in 1 Corinthians 4:7-10, 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 1 Corinthians 10:22 f., 1 Corinthians 7:31. (οἱ χρώμενοι τ. κόσμον: see notes); the affecters of philosophy at Cor[621] made a “liberal” use of the world. As in 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 1 Corinthians 10:22 f., the Ap. adopts their motto, giving to it a grander scope than its authors dreamed of (1 Corinthians 3:22), but only to check and balance it, reproving the conceit of its vaunters by the contrasted principle (δέ) of the Divine dominion in Christ, which absorbs all human proprietorship (1 Corinthians 3:23).

[618] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[619] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[620] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[621] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

First amongst the “all things” that the Cor[622] may legitimately boast, there stand—suggested by ἀνθρώποις, 21—“Paul, Apollos, Cephas,” the figureheads of the Church factions (1 Corinthians 1:12),—enumerated with εἴτεεἴτε (whether P. or Ap. or Ceph.), since these chiefs belong to the Church alike, not P. to this section, Ap. to that, and so on. Christ (1 Corinthians 1:12) is not named in this series of “men”; a diff[623] place is His (1 Corinthians 3:23).—From “Cephas” the enumeration passes per saltum to “the world” (εἴτε κόσμος—anarthrous, as thought of qualitatively; cf. Galatians 6:14], understood in its largest sense,—the existing order of material things; cf. note on 1 Corinthians 1:20. The right to use worldly goods, asserted broadly by Greek Christians at Cor[624] (1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 7:31, 1 Corinthians 10:23 f.: see notes), is frankly admitted; the Church (represented by its three leaders) and the world both exist for “you,”—are bound to serve you (cf. 1 Timothy 2:2-4; 1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Timothy 6:17; Psalms 8, etc.); the Messianic kingdom makes the saints even the world’s judges (1 Corinthians 6:2, Romans 4:13; Revelation 5:10, etc.).—εἴτε ζωὴ εἴτε θάνατος, by another bold and sudden sweep, carries the Christian empire into the unseen. Not Life alone, but Death—king of fears to a sinful world (Romans 5:17; Romans 5:21, Hebrews 2:15)—is the saints’ servant (1 Corinthians 15:26, etc.). They hold a condominium (Romans 8:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:10) with Him who is “Lord of living and dead” (Romans 14:9, etc.; Ephesians 4:9 f., Revelation 1:18); cf. ἐμοὶ τὸ ζῇν Χριστός, καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν κέρδος, Php 1:21.—ζωὴ and θάνατος extend the Christian’s estate over all states of being; εἴτε ἐνεστῶτα, εἴτε μέλλοντα, stretch it to all periods and possibilities of time. The former of these ptps. (pf. intransitive of ἐνίστημι) denotes what has come to stand there (instans),—is on the spot, in evidence; the latter what exists in intention,—to be evolved out of the present: see the two pairs of antitheses in Romans 8:38 f.; these things cannot hurt the beloved of God (Rom.), nay, must help and serve them (1 Cor.). See other parls. for “things present” (esp. Galatians 1:4) and “to come” (esp. Romans 8:17-25).

[622] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[623] difference, different, differently.

[624] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

The Apostle repeats triumphantly his πάντα ὑμῶν, having gathered into it the totality of finite existence, to reverse it by the words ὑμεῖς δὲ Χριστοῦ, “but (not and) you are Christ’s!” (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20, Romans 12:1 f., 2 Corinthians 5:15). The Cor[625] readers, exalted to a height outsoaring Stoic pride, are in a moment laid low at the feet of Christ: “Lords of the universe—you are His bondmen, your vast heritage in the present and future you gather as factors for Him”. P. endorses the doctrine of the kingship of the spiritual man, dilating on it with an eloquence surpassing that of Stoicism; “but,” he reminds him, his wealth is that of a steward. Our property is immense, but we are Another’s; we rule, to be ruled. A man cannot own too much, provided that he recognises his Owner.

[625] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

Finally, Christ who demands our subordination, supplies in Himself its grand example: Χριστὸς δὲ Θεοῦ, “but Christ is God’s”. We are masters of everything, but Christ’s servants; He Master of us, but God’s Servant (cf. Acts 3:13, etc.). For His filial submission, see 1 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Corinthians 15:22 ff., Romans 6:10, and notes; also John 8:29; John 10:29, etc. We cannot accept Cv[626]’s dilution of the sense, “Hæc subjectio ad Christi humanitatem refertur”; for the ὑμεῖς Χριστοῦ, just affirmed, raises Christ high over men. It is enough to say with Thd[627], Χριστὸς Θεοῦ οὐχ ὡς κτίσμα Θεοῦ, ἀλλʼ ὡς Ὑιὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ: cf. Hebrews 5:8. The sovereignty of the Father is the corner-stone of authority in the universe (1 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Corinthians 15:28).

[626] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[627] Theodoret, Greek Commentator.

The Ap. has now vindicated God’s rights in His Church (see Introd. to § 10), and recalled the Cor[628] from their carnal strife and pursuit of worldly wisdom to the unity, sanctity, and grandeur of their Christian calling, which makes them servants of God through Christ, and in His right the heirs of all things.

[628] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

21. Therefore let no man glory in men] We are to regard men as nothing in themselves, but in reference to their fellow-men solely as the instruments of a divine purpose, like all other things God has suffered to exist (1 Corinthians 3:22), a purpose beginning and ending with God, Whose we are, and for Whom alone we have been called into being. Even death itself has a part in that purpose, since through Christ it has become the gateway to everlasting life. See Collect for Easter Eve.

1 Corinthians 3:21. Ἐν ἀνθρώποις, in men) This appertains to [has the effect of] extenuation.[30]—πάντα, all things) not only all men.—ὑμῶν, yours) Those things are yours; not you theirs, 1 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 4:5.

[30] See App., under the tit. Litotes. Using a weaker expression, when a strong one is meant.—T.

Verse 21. - Wherefore. St. Paul, with this word, concludes the argument of warning of the previous section, as in 1 Corinthians 3:7; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 8:38; 11:33; 14:39; 15:58 (Wordsworth). All things are yours. It is always a tendency of Christians to underrate the grandeur of their privileges by exaggerating their supposed monopoly of some of them, while many equally rich advantages are at their disposal. Instead of becoming partisans of special teachers, and champions of separate doctrines, they might enjoy all that was good in the doctrine of all teachers, whether they were prophets, or pastors, or evangelists (Ephesians 4:11, 12). The true God gives us all things richly to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). 1 Corinthians 3:21All things are yours

The categories which follow form an inventory of the possessions of the Church and of the individual Christian. This includes: the christian teachers with different gifts; the world, life, and things present; death and things to come. In Christ, death becomes a possession, as the right of way between things present and things to come.

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