Commentary on Titus and Jude

 JULY 16, 2012

Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Topic #2: The Problem of Divisions, 1 Corinthians 1.10-4.21

 

 

Lesson 2.3: The Church in Corinth and Wisdom
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1.26-1.31


1 Cor 1:26-31 (KJV)

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


Commentary

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

For ye see your calling, brethren,
Here, Paul is addressing those he considers his brothers in Christ; those in the Corinthian Church that were called by the grace of God to have Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and they accepted Him as such. The Apostle wants them to give consideration to the manner of their calling, and to what type of people they were when God the Holy Spirit called them. For the most part, the first preachers and members of  the church were men who worked with their hands and earned their living by the sweat of their brow, fishermen, illiterate persons, the very poor and loathsome of society; some were even slaves. The city of Corinth had many noble families with people of high birth and quality, and it abounded with learned philosophers and rich merchants; and yet the Christians were poor and pitiful, and Paul will dwell on their weakness and how God used it to covert the world, in the followin verses. "The whole history of the expansion of the Church is a progressive victory of the ignorant over the learned, the lowly over the lofty, until the emperor himself laid down his crown before the cross of Christ" [OLSHAUSEN].

how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, notmany noble, are called:
The apostle does not say that there were none of the wise, the mighty, and noble called; for there were Crispus, and Sosthenes, rulers of the synagogue, and Gains a rich hospitable man, and Erastus the chamberlain of the city, and there may have been some others who were rich and famous; but there were not many of them; there are few instances of this kind recorded in the Scriptures; although there is Joseph of Arimathea a rich counsellor, Paulus Sergius a Roman deputy, Dionysius the Areopagite, and some in Caesar's palace; which shows that nobility, riches, and learning do not contribute towards a man's salvation, but neither can they hinder it where grace abounds; but, generally speaking, God has chosen, for wise reasons, to choose and call persons of different standing in society.

wise . . . after the flesh pertains to the wisdom of this world acquired by human study without the assistance of the Holy Spirit: “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Men may consider this type of wisdom to be important; but, because they are carnal they do not understand or appreciate spiritual wisdom.

Remember, the Apostle is talking about those things that were going on in Corinth, where the church mainly consisted of the poor and common people. Some of them were rescued from the dens of vice and depravity, snatched from the dregs of a cruel and heartless society, recruited from the hopeless ranks of slaves, delivered from the treadmills of commerce and industry; but Christ redeemed them, placed upon them the eternal name, announced from heaven the complete eradication of their sins, and made them partakers of the inheritance of the saints. Thank God for the church at Corinth and all churches everywhere that teaches all the word of God. Now this is what baffled the philosophers of Greece: They were ashamed when they saw that they could do nothing with their wisdom and eloquence in comparison to the apostles, whom they called idiots and uneducated. Paul uses this to prevent them from becoming all puffed-up with pride: seeing that God did not prefer them over those noble and wise men so that they could be proud, but for just the opposite reason; it was so that they would be humbled, whether they wished to be or not, and rejoice in the Lord, because, although they were the most wretched of all, they had obtained in Christ both this wisdom as well as all things necessary to salvation.

Many of the earliest Christians were slaves, a majority were poor, most were uneducated; and few of them had any claim to distinction in the wretched world of their day; but they were the roots from which all that is holy and beautiful has blossomed in succeeding centuries. In their achievements through faith in Christ one can see many of the wonderful things which have happened in America. As Emma Lazarus' poem on the Statue of Liberty reads: “Your wretched refuse of all lands - your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, Homeless and rejected, send them to me. I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door!” How those rejected ones have blessed the world! But this is only a feeble parable of what Christianity did on a cosmic scale. As Barclay put it, "Christianity was and still is literally the most uplifting thing in the whole universe."

Paul is pointing out the weakness of humans acting on behalf of Jesus Christ chosen to convert the world; that they are not those the world called wise, not the mighty, not the noble, yet the work was moving on with wonderful power. The Apostle seems to have said this in opposition to the high and worldly notions of the Jews, who assert that the Divine Spirit never rests upon any man, unless he is wise, powerful, and rich. Now this Divine Spirit did rest upon the Christians at Corinth, and yet they were, in the estimation of the world, neither wise, rich, nor noble. There may be something lost in the translation here by adding are called, as if God did not send his Gospel to the wise, the powerful, and the noble, or did not will their salvation. The truth is, the Gospel has an equal call to all classes of men; but the wise, the mighty, and the noble, are too busy, or too worldly, to pay any attention to an invitation so spiritual and so Divine; and therefore there are few of them in the Church of Christ in general. This is just as true today as it was back then, but one thing has definitely changed; it can no longer be said that Christian pastors are uneducated; since today, most churches call men with degrees, the larger churches call men with doctor in front of their names. Preachers today are in school as long as engineers, teachers, lawyers, etc.  And though most are from middle-class homes, there are some who come from wealthy parents.

I can say that when God called me He didn’t get much, and perhaps when he called you, he didn’t get much either. But I am glad that He did call me, and that I answered; it has been a blessed 70 years.

 
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world
God has chosen to use men who are judged rude and illiterate by the rich and educated, and with them to bewilder the greatest of the Greek philosophers, and topple their procedures; and, by making use of weak men, without worldly power or authority, to baffle the scribes and Pharisees, and in spite of resistance from the Jewish Sanhedrin, to spread the doctrine of Christ crucified all over the land of Judea, and through the efforts of these same men to convert thousands of souls to faith in the Gospel. The Jews have proverbs that express the same sense as these words of the apostle. In Shemoth Rabba, sec. 17, fol. 117, it is said: "There are certain matters which appear little to men, yet by them God points out important precepts. Thus hyssop in the sight of man is worth nothing, but in the sight of God its power is great; sometimes he equates it to the cedar, particularly in the ordinance concerning the lepers, and in the burning of the red heifer. Thus God commanded them in Egypt, Exodus 12:22: And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, it is said, 1 Kings 4:33: And he discoursed of trees, from the cedar on Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. Whence we may learn that great and small things are equal in the eyes of the Lord, and that even by small things He can work great miracles."

But God. See Matthew 11:25

But God hath chosen. The fact of their being in the church at all was the result of his choice. It was entirely due to his grace.

The foolish things. The things thought to be foolish by men. The expression here refers to those who lacked learning, rank, wealth, and power, and who were looked upon as fools, and were despised by the rich and the great.

World. Here, Paul has “mankind” in mind. It is the foolish things that mankind considers worthwhile, important, and valuable.

  • Matt 11:25 (KJV) At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. It is not that our Lord does not thank the Father that he had hidden these things from the wise and prudent; but since they were hidden from them, he had revealed them to the others.

to confound the wise;
We know who the wise are (See verse 26); but what does it mean to confound them? A dictionary meaning is “to perplex or amaze, especially by a sudden disturbance or surprise; bewilder; confuse.”  Those who are wise, in the world’s opinion, are perplexed, amazed, bewildered and confused by God revealing Himself to the poor, uneducated and wretched masses, through the preaching of Christ crucified. Here we are told why God hath chosen the foolish things of the world; it was to confound the wise. This selection by God is designed to silence the wisdom of man. He selects the foolish to shame the wise; the weak to shame the strong; and the “nobodys” to shame the “somebodys.” This does not mean these men are foolish. It means they seem foolish to the world. They are not weak; they are weak in the estimation of the world. This is God’s method. He even chooses the dishonorable. God chooses whom he judges fit to receive his favors, and then He separates them from the rest of mankind to be peculiarly his own and to be continually given his gracious oversight.

Paul’s purpose is to explain that the gospel of Christ appears foolish to human reasoning. To further his point, he encouraged the Corinthians to remember their own humble origins (See verse 26). According to human standards, most of them were not intelligent, influential, or rich. On the contrary, they were members of the common lower class and would have been considered weak, lowly, and even despised. Nevertheless, God called them. A “call” (Gk. klesis) is an invitation or an official summons by God to enter into a personal relationship with Him. A call is not based on human wisdom or status but on the grace of God who, in His “foolishness,” has chosen the unworthy things of the world to shame those of high human worth. This was done so that His chosen people would glory in Him and not in their own status or accomplishments.

The wise must have been ashamed and confused, to see such idiots, as they considered them to be, wiser than they were in the matter of salvation; these foolish ones, having been directed and influenced by divine grace to choose that good part, which shall never be taken from them. As for the wise, the day will come when they will be stripped of their nobility, wealth, and wisdom; to see these men go into the kingdom of heaven, while they are shut out. They will be brought to the realization of how little he regarded their wisdom; and how little their wisdom contributed to the success of his cause. By overlooking them, and bestowing his favors on the humble and the poor; by choosing his people from the ranks which they despised, and bestowing on them the exalted privilege of being called the sons of God, he had poured dishonor on the rich and the great, and overwhelmed them, and their schemes of wisdom, with shame.

and God hath chosen the weak things of the world
They are considered weak by the world’s standards, when it comes to having fame  and fortune, and they cannot boast of their birth and pedigree, or their ancient and illustrious families; they have no titles of honor, no estates, no possessions, and no worldly fortune to support themselves with. The Apostle James said about the same thing: Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? [James 2:5]. James is talking to believers, and he calls them “brethren.” A poor believer certainly is looked down upon in certain churches, and yet he may be the richest man spiritually in that church.

The Word of God says a great deal about the poor. God has made it very clear from Genesis to Revelation that He has a concern and consideration for the poor. It is as true in Moscow, Russia, as it is in the cities of New York, Washington, or Los Angeles that the poor never get a fair deal, and they never have. As long as men are natural men who are not born–again Christians, the poor will never get a fair deal in this world. Their only hope is in Jesus Christ. Listen to the Word of God: “But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty” (Job 5:15). And in Job 36:15 we read, “He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression.” Psalm 9:18 says, “For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.” Again in Psalms we read, “Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor” (Ps. 68:10). “For the LORD heareth the poor …” says Psalm 69:33. “For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy” (Ps. 72:12–13). Then in Psalm 102:17 we read, “He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.” There is Scripture after Scripture that speaks of the poor and of God’s concern for them. In marvelous Psalm 45 we read of the One who is coming who will reign on this earth in righteousness, and in Isaiah 11 we read, “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor …” (Isa. 11:4).

God has a great deal to say about the mistreatment of the poor on this earth by the rich and by those who are in power. Someday they will have to answer to Him for it. But the poor can be rich in spiritual things, and that is the important thing for the poor man to see.

God dooes not see things as you and I do. He hath chosen the foolish things of the world, the weak things of the world, the despicable things of the world, men of poor birth, of low rank, of no liberal education, to be the preachers of the gospel and church planters. His thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor his ways as our ways; He is a better judge than we are, of what instruments will best serve the purposes of his glory. Few of distinguished rank and character were called to be Christians. Since the teachers were poor, so were the converts, for the most part. Few of the wise, and mighty, and noble, embraced the doctrine of the cross.

to confound the things which are mighty;
The mighty are those who are the great, and noble, and highly educated. Haman was thought to be a great man, until he was hanged; but Mordecai was advanced by the providence of God. It will totally confuse the rich and mighty, to see persons of the lowest class in life made kings and priests by Christ, setting among princes, and upon the throne of glory; while all they can do is run for their lives, and call for the mountains to fall upon them, and cover them from the sight of him that sits on the throne, and the Lamb.

Those "foolish" Christians of Corinth triumphed over all the proud and boastful philosophers; those "weak" followers of Christ spread the truth over the world while Corinth and Athens crumbled. To go with Christ is to go with the future!


28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

And base things of the world,
I have never used the word “base” when describing another person, and I never will since I now know what it means. It has several meanings, but a “base person” would be—
1. Morally low; dishonorable; mean-spirited; selfish; cowardly; the filth of the world.
2. Of little or no value; worthless. 
3. An inferior person or thing.
4. Of illegitimate birth; uneducated, and without an occupation.

The first Christians, both among Jews and Greeks, were weak, and foolish, and “base”; men with little or no education, and very low rank and pitiful appearance. But when the Gospel was preached to them they willingly received it. They were faithful witnesses for Jesus Christ, and through their testimony the Gospel was spread throughout the Roman world. God used them to beat down the pride and vanity of men; He choose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise—men of no learning to confound the most learned; the weak things of the world to confound the might—men of low rank and meager status to confound and prevail against all the power and authority of earthly kings.

It is very likely that the apostle is referring here to the Gentiles and to the Gentile converts, who were considered base and despicable in the eyes of the Jews, who considered them no better than dogs, and who are repeatedly called the things that are not.

and things that are despised,
They are despised by the world, since they are esteemed to be nothing, as poor people generally are (See Mark 9:12; Luke 18:19). The language here is a striking instance of Paul's manner of expressing himself with great strength. He desires to convey to the Corinthians and to you and I today, in the strongest terms, the fact that God had enhanced His plan with grace by choosing the objects of least esteem among men. He is willing to admit all that could be said on this point. He says, therefore, that he had chosen the things of low birth and rank--the base things of the world; but this did not fully express his meaning. He had chosen objects of contempt among men; but this was not strong enough to express his idea. He adds, therefore, that he had chosen those things which were absolutely nothing which had no existence; which could not be supposed to influence him in his choice.

This verse taken in conjunction with the preceding verse gives five designations for Christians (as for how they were regarded by the world of that period). The foolish, the weak, the base, the despised, the things that "are not" (in other words, the "nobodies"); but the great apostle's words on behalf of those who were despised by the world are to the effect that the triumph, the success, the honor, and the glory belong to them. In the last three designations (in this verse), the Jewish attitude of despising all Gentiles and actually speaking of them as "dogs" appears to be in Paul's thinking (See Matthew 15:26).

  • Mark 9.12 (KJV) And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
  • Luke 18:9 (KJV) And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Despised others. Others who were not as externally righteous as themselves. This was the character of the Pharisees. They trusted in their outward conformity to the ceremonies of the law. They considered all who did not do that as sinners. This, moreover, is the true character of self-righteousness. Men of this type always despise others.
  • Matt 15:26 (KJV) But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

hath God chosen
God has chosen the poor of this world, who are rich in faith, to inherit a kingdom. That doesn’t mean that a rich man or woman cannot be saved; but Jesus did say; “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25; KJV). Well, a camel can’t go through the eye of a needle. That’s humanly impossible, or should we say “camel” impossible. But for God all things are possible; however, it must be that very few of the rich and powerful are saved, since Jesus gave us such a ridiculous illustration.

yea, and things which are not;
Some think, myself included, that Paul has the Gentiles in mind here, since the Jews called them “dogs” and “things that are not,” as they did in the apocryphal books (See below). “Things which are not” is that which is nothing; which is worthless; which has no existence; those things which were below contempt itself; and which, in the estimation of the world, was passed by as if they did not exist—those who are so unimportant that they are unworthy of even the slightest notice which is implied in the word contempt. For a man to despise a thing, he must at least notice it, and consider it worth some attention. But the apostle here speaks of things beneath even that slight notice; like a thing that is completely and totally disregarded, as if it did not exist. The language here is evidently that of hyperbole (an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”). “Things which are not” and “things which are nothing” was a common figure of speech in the East, and it is not unusual to find them in the sacred writings: "All nations before him are as nothing, And they are counted to him less than nothing and vanity," (Isaiah 40:17). Also, "God, who calleth those things which be not as though they were," (Romans 4:17). This language expressed the opinion which the Jews had of the Gentiles. They despised them, and, infact regarded them as no people; a people without laws, and organization, and religion, and privileges, (See 1 Peter 2:10). Queen Esther prayed these words about the Medes and Persians, “O Lord, give not thy sceptre unto them that be nothing, and let them not laugh at our fall; but turn their device upon themselves, and make him an example, that hath begun this against us'' (Esther 14:11). Her prayer is that God would not give his sceptre to those who are not.

“Yea” is not in the Greek. The introduction of this Word by the translators does nothing to illustrate the gist of the verse, but, in fact it adds confusion .Also some of the oldest manuscripts omit "and."  However, the clause, "things which are not" (are regarded as naught), is in agreement with "foolish . . . weak . . . base (that is, lowborn) and despised things." God has chosen all four, though regarded as things that are not, to bring to naught things that are. Yea.

Apocrypha, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “books included in the Septuagint and Vulgate but excluded from the Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament.”

  • Isaiah 40:17 (KJV) All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.
  • 1 Peter 2:10 (KJV) Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

to bring to nought things that are;
The subject here is the opposite of things which are not; they are those who, on account of their noble birth, large possessions, and high attainments in knowledge and learning, thought of themselves as someone great, and despised all others; all of them will be done away with one day, and they will not enjoy the future happiness and glory which will come to all those who love God. The Jews have a saying which is quite contrary to all this; it says “the Shekinah, or presence of God, does not dwell on any but upon a wise man, a mighty man, and a rich man.”

Those who are chosen will bring to nought things that are; the existing state of things; the pagan religions, governments, and civilization; these were to be overthrown through the influence of the Gospel. God has already brought to nought all the Jewish pretentiousness; and He did it by means of the Gentiles, who, soon after this, trodden underfoot the citizens of Jerusalem. Israel is strong again, which they must be to survive in the midst of millions of Muslums. But in their prior condition, they were humble and subdued, and impotent.

There is nothing worthwhile in any man, because in reality we are all nothing. We have value only because Jesus has claimed us for His own. Things that are, therefore, must mean things that appear, so that this passage corresponds with such statements as these: 
• He raiseth up the poor out of the dunghill, (Psalm 113:7.)
• He raiseth up them that are cast down, (Psalm 146:8,)
And so we may clearly see how great is the foolishness of those who imagine that there is in mankind some degree of merit or worthiness, which would make them deserving of God's choice.


29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

That no flesh should glory in his presence.
How incredible it is that a man, a creature of flesh and blood, created from the dust of the earth and destined to return to dust, whose glory at its peak only lasts for a moment, whose days consist of one aggravation after another, who is always asking for help, and whose righteousness is like filthy rags—how mind-boggling it is that such a creature as man would boast to God! But this is what has become of Adam's race, and only God can give it salvation; but that salvation cost God a horrendous price; the blood of Jesus Christ shed on Calvary. But there is something even more incredible than that; it is that God would give up His Son to suffering and death for any man, especially a man like me. But He did it, because God desires that man should recognize and confess his sin and unworthiness, and, like those poor mortals of Corinth, turn to the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ the Lord. If the first converts to Christianity had been the wealthy rulers of kingdoms, the impression would have been that such persons had earned eternal life. However, no man was ever capable of earning one second of eternal life; and Paul's thought here stresses the wisdom of God in saving the outcasts of Corinth in order that no flesh should glory before God. Those former disgraceful men of that awful city of Corinth deserved salvation as much as the wisest and greatest men on earth, which is not at all; and every man who comprehends this basic truth of salvation in Christ is very fortunate indeed.

Some translations have "in the presence of God", and the Arabic and Ethiopic versions read; “not in their blood, birth, families, lineage, and natural descent; nor in their might, power, and dominion; nor in their riches, wealth, and substance; nor in their wisdom, learning, and parts: for however these may be gloried in before men, yet not before God.”  These things do not impress God; as a matter of fact, he makes use of a method for choosing and calling that is the reverse of these, in order to stain the magnificence of all flesh, so that no man may attribute his salvation to anything other than, the sovereign grace and good pleasure of God. "Flesh" is often used to represent the whole man (Matthew 24:22; Luke 3:6; John 17:2 Acts 2:17; 1 Peter 1:24): and here Paul uses this word "flesh" very well, to contrast the weak and miserable condition of man with the majesty of God. The gospel was designed by God to bring down the pride of both Jews and Greeks, to shame those who boasted of having the science and learning of the Greeks and the linage of the Jews. Flesh, like "the flower of the field," is beautiful, but frail (See Isaiah 40:6-8). We are not to glory before Him, but in Him: “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith” (Romans 3:27). What Paul is saying here is this: If God is saving by faith in Christ and not by your merit (your works), then where is boasting? What is it that you and I have to crow about? We can’t even boast of the fact that we’re fundamental in our doctrine. We have nothing to glory in today. Paul asks, “Where is boasting then?” And he answers the question he raises. He says: “It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” The word law in the first instance is not restricted to the Old Testament Law but means the principle of law—any law, anything that you think you can do. The second reference to law excludes the Old Testament Law and means simply a rule or principle of faith. In other words, God has the human race not on the merit system, but on the basis of simply believing what He has done for us. Therefore, it excludes boasting.

The gospel dispensation is a device to humble man; but, it has been marvelously prepared to glorify God. There is a great deal of power and glory in the substance and life of Christianity. Although its ministers were poor and uneducated, and its converts generally of the lowest rank, yet the hand of the Lord went along with the preachers; and the Holy Spirit was mighty in the hearts of the hearers; and Jesus Christ became both great and honorable to the ministers, and Christians, as well. We may make the following observations with regard to these verses:
(1) that it is to be expected that the great mass of Christian converts will be found among those who are leading a humble life; and it may be observed also, that true virtue, honesty, sincerity, and friendliness, are usually found there also.
(2) That while the mass of Christians are found there, there are also those of noble birth, and rank, and wealth, who become Christians. The number of those who have come from the privileged class to become Christians has not been small. It is sufficient to refer to such names as Pascal, and Bacon, and Boyle, and Newton, and Locke, and Hale, and Wilberforce, to show that religion can command the respect of the most illustrious genius and the rich and powerful.
(3) The reasons why those of rank and wealth do not become Christians, are many and obvious.

a. They are inundated with unhealthy temptations.
b. They are usually satisfied with position and wealth, and do not feel the need of a hope of heaven.
c. They are surrounded with objects which flatter their vanity, which minister to their pride, and which throw them into the circle of alluring and tempting pleasures.
d. They are drawn away from the means of grace and the places of prayer, by fashion, by business, by temptation.
e. There is something about the pride of learning and philosophy which usually makes those who possess it unwilling to sit at the feet of Christ; to acknowledge their dependence on any power; and to confess that they are poor, and needy, and blind, and naked before God.

(4) The gospel is designed to produce humility, and to place all men on the same level in regard to salvation. There is no royal way to the favor of God. No monarch is saved because he is a monarch; no philosopher because he is a philosopher; no rich man because he is rich; no poor man because he is poor. All are placed on a level field. All are to be saved in the same way. All are to become willing to give the entire glory to God. All are to acknowledge him as the One who provided the plan, and as the One who furnished the grace that is needed for salvation. God's plan includes bringing down the pride of man, and producing a willingness to acknowledge him as the Fountain of blessings, and the God of all.

All mankind is to be silent when it comes into the presence of God; as Habakkuk says—
Let all flesh keep silence before God, (Habakkuk 2:20.) Let everything, that is at all deserving of praise, be recognized as proceeding from God.

  • Isaiah 40:6-8 (KJV) The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Man is compared to the grass of the field. The question is, how can there be comfort in being reminded that we are like grass? Here in South Carolina grass is beautiful after the spring rain; but not many weeks later, after the sun has beat upon it for awhile, it begins to turn brown, wither, and die. Man is just like that.


30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,
Even the good that is in you comes from God, because Jesus Christ and all the blessings of the Gospel dispensation come from and through him. There is salvation in Christ alone; and in Christ the saved enjoy all things. Consider this: Being in Christ is the only true ground for justification in the eyes of God. Jesus is perfect, holy, undefiled, and righteous in the highest degree. Christians, who are in Christ and like Christ are holy and righteous. But it is not their righteousness, of course, in the sense that they achieved it on their own; but it is theirs in the sense that Christ achieved it and they "are Christ," seeing that they are members of his spiritual body. Satan, death and hell have no claim on the one who is "in Christ." Why? Because what is true of the head is true of the entire body; and our head, which is Christ, has paid the penalty of death for the sin of mankind; therefore the whole spiritual body (the church) has also paid it in the person of Christ. That is what is meant by being dead to sin by the body of Christ: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11). “Reckon” doesn’t mean I “reckon” or “suppose,” as some of us South Carolinians use it. Rather, we are to count on the fact that we are dead unto sin and alive unto God. We are to reckon (count on it) that our old nature lay in Joseph’s tomb over two thousand years ago, but when Christ came back from the dead, we came back from the dead in Him. This is something to count on.

These words, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,” are meant to direct them to the proper object for glorying, the Lord Jesus Christ, so they give them an awareness of the high honor that the called ones are brought into through Christ: “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever” (Romans 11:36; KJV). They are a new creation of God the Father, of his own rich free grace and goodness, without any regard to any motive, merit, or worthiness of theirs: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8: KJV)—put into Christ by electing grace, in whom they are preserved and blessed by regenerating grace: and in consequence of their being in Christ, as their head and representative, he becomes everything to them, which is what is expressed here.

Now, let’s break this clause down, and look closely at what the apostle is saying.
But of him. That is, by his energy and power. It is not by philosophy; not from ourselves; but by his mercy. The apostle keeps it prominently in view, that they had not been given these privileges because of their philosophy, wealth, or rank; but it was entirely due to the grace and resolve of God.

Are ye. You are what you are by the mercy of God: “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace” (1 Cor 15:10; NLT). You owe your hopes to him. The emphasis in this verse is to be placed on this expression, "are ye." You are Christians, not by the manipulations of any man, but by the will of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit.

In Christ Jesus. There are four things mentioned by Paul in this verse which belong to the Christian by virtue of his being "in Christ”; wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Oh, my friend, He is everything that we need. I wish I could get that over to you. He has been made to us wisdom. He is our righteousness. He is our sanctification and our redemption. Whatever it is that you need today, you will find it in Him.

who of God is made unto us wisdom,
“Who of God” is another way of saying From God. Christ is given to us by God, and He appointed Him to be our wisdom. God originated the system, and God gave Christ for this purpose. Is made unto us Wisdom means that he is our Source of wisdom; He is the One that will make us wise. This cannot mean that His wisdom becomes ours; that it is given to us; because that is not true. But it must mean simply, that Christians have become truly wise by the power, the teaching, and the work of Christ. Philosophers had attempted to become wise by their own research and study. But Christians had become wise by the work of Christ; that is, it had been by his instructions that they had become acquainted with the true character of God, with his law, with their own condition, and with the great truth that there was a glorious immortality beyond the grave. None of these truths had been obtained by the investigations of philosophers, but by the instructions of Christ. In a similar manner they had been made wise unto salvation: "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). All that we need is in Christ. If only we could learn that! He is the reservoir of all knowledge. There is a saying I like; it says, “Next to knowing, is knowing where to find out.” I love that. I willingly admit that I don’t know everything—I’m sure you have found that out by now. But I know where to find out, because I know Somebody who does know. Christ has been made unto us wisdom. We need to rest in that. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him—how wonderful this is!

Christ may be said to be made wisdom to us, or to communicate wisdom,
(1.) Because he has by his own ministry instructed us in the true knowledge of God, and of those great truths which pertain to our salvation.
(2.) Because he has by his word and Spirit led us to see our true situation, and made us "wise unto salvation." He has turned us from the foolish ways, and prompted us to walk in the path of true wisdom.
(3.) Because he is the Source of wisdom to his people. He enlightens their minds in the time of confusion; guides them to the truth; and leads them down the path of real knowledge. It often happens that little known and ignorant men, who have been taught in the school of Christ, have more true and real knowledge of that which concerns their welfare, and possess more real, practical wisdom, than can be learned in all the schools of philosophy and learning on the earth. It is wise for a sinful and dying man or woman to prepare for eternity. But only those who are instructed by the Son of God are wise enough to do so. He teaches above all things, that the Gospel ought to be believed, seeing that it contains the principal things that are to be desired, that is, true wisdom, the true way to obtain righteousness, the true way to live honestly and godly, and the true deliverance from all miseries and calamities. "Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God" ( verse 24 ), is wisdom to us, who were, before He called us, utterly foolish and ignorant.

and righteousness,
Christ is the "author" of righteousness; he has the ultimate righteousness, and he has brought in a righteousness, for those who belong to him, which is highly pleasing to God, while satisfying his justice; which justifies from all sin, and liberates from all condemnation, is everlasting, and will answer for them when they must appear before the Judge. He has brought all this about by the holiness of his nature, the obedience of his life, and by his sufferings and death: and none of it is in them naturally, and it cannot be produced in them, or done by them. But, since they are in him, and He is their head and representative, who by "imputation" is made righteousness to them; and they are in the same way made the righteousness of God in him; or in other words, this righteousness, by an act of the Father's grace, is imputed, reckoned, and accounted to them as their justifying righteousness. That is, we who were once under the wrath and curse of God, receive His righteousness; the only ground for our justification—“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer 23.5, 6; KJV). Have you ever heard of this as a plank in a political platform? I have never heard a candidate claim that he is righteous and that he will follow God’s plan and program for government. I’ve heard politicians make almost every other claim under the sun but that one! They wouldn’t dare make it. But righteousness will characterize the Kingdom when the Lord Jesus Christ reigns.

and sanctification,
Sanctify is a significant word in Christian theology. In order to gain a full understanding of Sanctification, we will look at three areas:
1. “Sanctify” in the OT
2. The Greek words and their meaning
3. “Sanctify” in the NT

OT—1. Sanctify in the OT. Where the word sanctify occurs, it is from the Hebrew word “qadas”, which means “to set apart as holy.” In the OT the context in which this word is used is primarily associated with persons or objects set apart for service to God, and by this dedication, completely separated from common uses. (See Holy/Holiness)

NT—2. The Greek words and their meaning. “Sanctify” and “sanctification” are translations from the same Greek words—hagiazo (“to make holy” or “to sanctify”) and hagiasmos (“sanctification” or “holiness”). Thus, the concepts of sanctification and holiness are related (sometimes identical) and should be studied in connection with each other.

Holy/Holyness
 A basic distinction must be made between the OT and NT concepts of holiness. In the OT, the holy is that which is taken from the common and set apart for God’s use/service. In the NT, holiness is a dynamic process. The holy is actually the common, infused now by God’s Spirit and transformed for his service. Thus, our sanctification has to do with God’s transformation of us into persons whose actions in daily life model Jesus’ life and teaching.

3. “Sanctify” in the NT.  What do we learn when we study the texts where “sanctify” and “sanctification” are found in the NT? Compare the following verses:
• John 17.17, 19 is Jesus prayer for the sanctification of believers: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth…And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified {truly sanctified} through the truth.” Sanctify means to set apart. The believer is not of the world; he is set apart. The thought has reference to the task rather than the person; it is a commitment to the task. The believer is set apart by the Word of God. That is, the Word reveals the mind of God. As you read the Word, you are led to set yourself apart for a particular ministry. We can serve Him only as we know His Word and are obedient to it. The goal of sanctification is that believers will be prepared to be sent into the world as Jesus was sent, to glorify God by doing his work.
• Romans 15.16 is different since the sanctifying agent is the Holy Spirit: “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Spirit indwelt the gentile believers, beginning with Cornelius. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit begins with Jew and Gentile at the moment of regeneration, when the Spirit of God takes up His abode within the believer. There are other passages where sanctification is spoken of as being part of every believer’s experience: Acts 20.32, 26.18; 1 Corinthians 1.2, 6.11.

In 1 Thessalonians 5.23, we have Paul’s desire that God sanctify believers “through and through”, and God is again seen as the agent of sanctification: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Man is a triune being; body, soul (mind), and spirit. “Sanctify you wholly”—not perfectly, but we are to reach a place of maturation. We should not continue to be babes in Christ; we should be growing to maturity.

Finally, in ①Hebrews 10.29, the writer argues that the blood of Jesus sanctifies within; whereas, all that the OT sacrifices could accomplish was an outward, ritual sanctification, ②Hebrews 9.13.

① Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? This is probably the most solemn statement in the Word of God. “Wherewith he was sanctified” refers to Christ, the Son of God. They crucified “to themselves the Son of God afresh” (Heb. 6:6). To act as if the death of Christ is inadequate to settle the sin question, and to go on as if He had not died, is to treat the blood of Christ as something you despise. Knowledge creates responsibility. If, after you have heard the gospel, you turn your back on Jesus Christ—my friend, someone ought to tell you that you are going to hell! This is not what I say; it is what God says.

②For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh. “And the ashes of an heifer” is a reference to the ordinance of the red heifer in Numbers 19. The heifer was burned completely and its ashes kept in a clean place. When a man became ceremonially defiled (primarily by touching a dead body), the priest would take the ashes, mingle them with water, and sprinkle the offender. This served to ceremonially purify him so that he could be restored to fellowship. I would like to have you notice that here the heifer has a particular symbolism. A female, instead of a bull, is used. We are told in 1 Peter 3:7 that the female is the weaker vessel. Our defilement actually comes through our weakness. We are weak, and Christ came down and experienced physically, in the flesh, our weakness.
We are told also that a red heifer was used. The red, I think, speaks of the fact that Christ became sin for us—not in some academic way, but He actually became sin for us. How do we know that red is the color of sin! Isaiah said, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18, italics mine). So it must be a red heifer, speaking of the fact that He became sin for us.
The animal must also be without blemish. It certainly could not represent Christ unless it was perfect. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
The red heifer must be an animal upon which a yoke had never been put. This symbolizes the fact that although Christ was made sin for us, He was never under the bondage of sin.
The heifer was to be led outside the camp and there slain before the high priest. In this we have pictured that the Lord Jesus is both the offering and the High Priest—He offered Himself.
The blood of the offering was to be sprinkled by the high priest before the tabernacle seven times. Many people think that seven is the number of perfection in Scripture. That is only indirectly true; the primary meaning is completeness. It speaks here of the fact that Christ’s sacrifice is a finished transaction—one sacrifice takes care of the sin of the believer.
The carcass of the heifer was to be burned—again in the sight of the high priest. You see, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus freely gave Himself, but we probably have never thought of the sorrow that was in heaven the day He died.
Numbers also tells us that cedar and hyssop were to be put with the sacrifice. This is rather suggestive to me. First Kings 4:33 says, “And he [Solomon] spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall….” Solomon ran the gamut of trees and plant life; he was a dendrologist and knew the entire field. I think this is what Isaac Watts meant by “the whole realm of nature.” Therefore I believe this speaks of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ not only redeemed mankind, but He has redeemed this world. We live in a world that is cursed by sin; it is now groaning and travailing in pain, but it is to be delivered. Someday it is to be redeemed, and sin is to be removed. Christ’s sacrifice was adequate and it was complete. It was a finished transaction that covered all of God’s creation which has been touched by sin.
The ashes of the heifer were to be kept in a clean place and then mixed with water when they were used. I think that the water speaks of the Word of God. It is the Word of God which reveals sin in the life of the believer. But, we need to understand that the sacrifices, and ceremonies associated with them, were never intended to sanctify or save the OT saints; they were acts of obedience and worship; but sanctification requires that a person is first saved by faith. Their salvation could not be complete until Christ died for their sins. The sacrifice of Christ provided redemption for the future—for your redemption and my redemption. It also provided redemption for the sins of those in the Old Testament. The Old Testament saints were saved by faith—Abraham was saved by faith. How? He believed God and brought a lamb. Was that lamb adequate? No; it prefigured Christ. The sacrifice of Christ looks forward and it looks backward.
From these passages it is clear that God sanctifies believers and that the blood of Christ provides the basis for this. Divine sanctification is effected by the Holy Spirit, and the word of God is an active agent in the process.

and redemption:
God is the author of redemption, but here the apostle is not talking about redemption from Egyptian bondage, or Babylonian captivity, but from the servitude of Satan, the dominion of sin and death, and from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, or the redemption of the body: “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8.21). Man has a dying body. As someone has said, “The moment He gives us life, He begins to take it away from us.” And there is death and decay out yonder in nature. Go out in the beautiful forest, and there you see a tree lying dead, corrupt, rotting. That’s nature. And you catch the stench of the decaying bodies of dead animals.  The Christian’s body may decay in the grave, but one day, our bodies will be redeemed: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).Not only does nature groan, but the believer is in harmony with nature. This verse is devastating to those who propose the theory that the mark of a Christian is a perennially smiling face. They contend that a Christian should be a cross between a Cheshire cat and a house–to–house salesman. A Christian should grin—at all times. Smile your troubles away is good for the Rotary Club, but it is not the Christian method. We groan within these bodies. Some years ago when I began to move into “the golden years”, I would come down the steps in the morning groaning because my knees and back were hurting. My wife told me I should not groan! I told her it is scriptural to groan. Paul says, “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2). Also the psalmist wrote, “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears” (Ps. 6:6). Our Lord Jesus did some weeping also. Although I believe He was a joyful person, there were times when He wept. In these bodies we groan.

The object of the apostle is to show that man is not inherently good, that whatever goodness he has comes from God, and from God only through Christ. Man’s greatest need is redemption from the penalty, guilt, and domination of sin, which brings about the salvation of the soul and places the believer "in Christ."

The things which are specified above, "justification and sanctification," are a part of the work of redemption. Probably the word is used here in a wide sense, denoting the whole group, or class of influences by which we are brought at last to heaven; so that the apostle refers not only to his atonement, but to the work by which we are in fact redeemed from death, and made happy in heaven. Thus in Romans 8:23 (See above), the word is applied to the resurrection, "the redemption of our body." The sense is, "It is by Christ that we are redeemed; by him that an atonement is made; by him that we are pardoned; by him that we are delivered from the dominion of sin, and the power of our enemies; and by him that we shall be rescued from the grave, and raised up to everlasting life." Thus the whole work depends on him; and no part of it is to be ascribed to the philosophy, the talent, or the wisdom of men. He does not merely complete that which is imperfect; he does not come in to do a part of the work necessary to fix our defects;--but it can all be traced to him. Listen to Colossians 2:10, where it says: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” You “are complete in him.” “Complete” is a nautical term, and it could be translated in this very vivid way: You are ready for the voyage of life in Him. Isn’t that a wonderful way of saying it? You are ready for the voyage of life in Christ, and whatever you need for the voyage of life you will find in Him. This is where we say that Christ is the answer. What is your question? What is it you need today? Are you carried away by human philosophy? Then turn to Christ. Are you carried away by enticing words? Are you carried away by the systems and traditions of men? Turn to Christ.

 

31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

That, according as it is written,
As it is written is evidently a quotation from Jeremiah 9:23, 24: “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches…But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. These are two wonderful verses of Scripture. They can stand alone and are often quoted alone. However, we need to remember that they were spoken to a people who had rejected the Word of God.

He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
The apostle is very clear on this point; Christians are not to glory (boasting or exultation) in their own wisdom, riches, and strength; but in Christ, who is their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

No flesh should glory in his presence, according to verse 29. Let them all yield to God and give him thanks. Observe, It is the will of God that all our glorifying should be in the Lord: He has granted us salvation through Christ. Who is greater than him and who has done more for us than He has; hence, we should glorify in Him. Man is humbled, and God glorified and exalted, by the whole scheme God set in motion by the gospel. Christ is everything to us, he imparts every grace that we enjoy, and bestows every blessing; there is no ground for glorying in Paul, Apollos or Cephas, but there is plenty of ground for glorying in the Lord alone.

In short, man, having been brought to nothing in his own estimation, and acknowledging that there is nothing good anywhere but in God alone, must renounce all desire for his own glory, and with all his might aspire and aim at the glory of God exclusively. This is made obvious in the writings of the Prophet, from whom Paul has borrowed this testimony (See Jeremiah 9:23, 24; above); in that passage the Lord, after stripping all mankind of glory with respect to strength, wisdom, and riches, commands us to glory only in knowing him. Now, he wants us to know that it is he that exercises judgment, righteousness, and mercy, since this knowledge produces in us, at once, confidence in him and fear of him. Let us strive to be that man, who has his mind regulated in such a manner that he claims no merit for himself, he desires that God alone be exalted, he rests with satisfaction on his grace, and places his entire happiness in his love for God; that man truly "glories in the Lord."

 

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http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (The life of Christ in chronological order)

http://periodofthejudges.yolasite.com (A Bible Study on the Book of Judges)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.com (A Bible Study on the Book of Romans)

http://newtestamentepistles.com (A Bible Study on Titus, Jude, and 1st Corinthians)

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