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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2

Analysis

This and the two following chapters are employed by the Apostle in delivering instructions concerning the gifts of the Holy Ghost. In this chapter, he undertakes to remedy certain abuses of which these GRATIÆ GRATIS DATÆ, with which the Corinthian Church was abundantly favoured, were the occasion. It appears, that many among them, upon whom were conferred gifts of a more exalted and honourable description, had, in consequence, grown insolent, and despised their humbler and less favoured brethren. These, on the other hand, indulged feelings of jealousy and envy. Hence, schisms and divisions among them. To remedy this evil, the Apostle reminds them, in the first place, of their former degraded condition, when professing the errors of Paganism. As they, therefore, possessed no claim to these gifts, they should not make them serve as occasions of pride (1–4). In the next place, he shows that these gifts, although differing in number and quality, were one in their source and origin, viz., God, their author; and hence, they should serve rather to cement union, than cause divisions (4–6). He then reminds them that these gifts were given for the profit of the entire body of the faithful, as well those who were not favoured with them, as those who were (7). In the next place, he shows that in the distribution of the several gifts, which he enumerates and classes wider nine distinct heads, the Holy Ghost is influenced solely by his own gratuitous will; and, therefore, these gifts should neither prove the occasion of pride to one party, nor of envy to the other (8–12). By a beautiful illustration drawn from the unity of the natural body of man, although composed of different members, he points out the relative duties which the different members of the mystic body of Christ owe to each other. He shows, that, like the natural body, the mystic body of Christ is one (12–13). (Hence, the members of the Church should have but one soul), and composed of different members (14). (Hence, all cannot have the same gifts). He then points out, that the different members, all enjoy the honours of the body by incorporation (15, 16). And, that consistently with the nature of an organized body, all cannot have the same functions (17–20). Addressing the more highly gifted, he assigns reasons why they should treat the others with greater attention (21–27). He applies all that had been said of the natural body to the Church, and shows the variety of gifts and functions in it (27–30). He recommends charity (31).

Paraphrase

1. Whilst deferring until the period of my advent amongst you all further arrangements respecting your Agapes and the Adorable Eucharist (11:34), I am anxious to instruct you regarding the spiritual gifts which are the occasion of certain abuses.

2. You know, that before your conversion, when you professed the errors of Paganism, you were in the habit of going to pay your senseless homage to mute idols which were devoid of reason or intelligence, according as you were impelled either by curiosity, or custom, or the craft of the devil.

3. Wherefore, I wish to make known to you, that no one speaking under the influence of God’s Spirit, will curse, or say anathema to Jesus. (As, then, you were identified in your Pagan state with those who cursed the Lord Jesus, you had no claim whatever to receive those spiritual gifts of which you now boast). And no one can so much as pronounce, in a pious manner, and in a way conducive to salvation, the name of Jesus, without the grace of the Holy Ghost. (Hence, whatever gifts you possess at present come from the Spirit of God).

4. But, although there is a different distribution of gratuitous gifts, the source and principle of them is one and the same—viz., the Holy Ghost.

5. And although the distribution of ministrations be different, the principle and source of them is the same: viz., God the Son, who is our Lord by the special title of Redemption.

6. And although the distribution of supernatural operations, of the active faculties of working great and distinguished miracles be different, their principle is still one and the same—viz., God the Father.—(Having, then, but one source to which all their glory is due, they should not prove the occasion of divisions by engendering feelings of pride in one party, or of envy in the other).

7. (Another reason why these gifts should secure harmony is, the end which God had in view in bestowing them). Every one of these gifts, by which the operation of the Holy Spirit is manifested, was given to each person not for his own private profit, but for the utility of the entire Church. (Hence, the less favoured man is a sharer in the benefits accruing from them).

8. To one man, indeed, is given by the Holy Ghost the faculty of treating of the sublime truths of Revelation, and of explaining them on the lofty principles of faith. To another, is given by the same spirit the faculty of explaining truths of Revelation on principles, and by examples, derived from human things.

9. To another, is imparted by the same Spirit, the faith by which are wrought miracles: to another, the gift of miraculously healing divers maladies and distempers.

10. To another, the faculty of working great and splendid miracles. To another, the faculty of explaining, without previous consideration, the SS. Scriptures and points of Revelation. To another, the faculty of discerning the quarter from which the several communications made may come—whether from God or the enemy. To another, the faculty of speaking in several tongues to him hitherto unknown. To another, the faculty of explaining those unknown tongues in the vernacular of the country.

11. But all these gifts, differing in number and variety, are bestowed by one and the same Spirit, who also co-operates in their exercise, distributing them to each one according as he may think fit and proper. (And hence, one man should not be puffed up with pride, nor should another pine away from envy on account of the gifts bestowed by the Holy Ghost according to his own gratuitous pleasure).

12. (And that the very difference of these gifts conferred on the several members of the Church should, far from creating disunion, on the contrary, secure harmony, is clear from the example of the human body and its several component members). For, as the human body is one, although composed of different members, nor does the difference or multitude of members make it cease to be one body; so it is also with the mystical body of which Christ is head. (It is one, although composed of several members.)

13. For that the mystic body of Christ is one, is clear from this fact, that in baptism we all, whether Jews or Gentiles, slaves or freemen, are by one Spirit, ingrafted on the one body of Christ. And besides baptism, we have another bond of union, in our having been made partakers of the sacred blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and thus made into one Spirit.

14. And that this mystic body has many members follows from the very nature of a body, which is composed not of one, but of many members.

15. And in the natural body were the foot to complain that it is not the hand, would it, therefore, cease to be of the body, or to partake of its honours?

16. The same holds for the several inferior members, should they murmur or repine at the place allotted to them respectively in the body—(v.g.), should the ear murmur for not being the eye, would it, therefore cease to belong to the entire body, or to partake of its honour and glory? By no means.

17. And if the entire body were reduced to an eye, as the repining member would have it (for, the other members might just as well wish to be the eye as the repining one), where would be the ear?—where the sense of smelling?

18. But now God has so arranged the different members in the body, that each one should hold its proper place according as it has pleased him.

19. And if, contrary to this ordination of God, all the members were reduced to one, where would be the harmony and order of a body regularly organized and composed of different parts?

20. But now, there are many component members, and but one body, as has been asserted, verse 12.

21. (And as the less favoured members should neither repine at their place in the body, nor envy the more highly favoured, so these latter should not in turn grow proud of their position, nor despise the less favoured members.) The eye cannot say to the hand, I require not your assistance; nor can the head say to the feet, you are not necessary for me.

22. Far from undervaluing any member as useless, we should keep in mind, that the very members, which appear to be the most feeble, are the most necessary for the maintenance of life—(v.g.), the brains, intestines, &c.

23. And on the members which we regard as least honourable, we bestow the greatest honour, by more studiously covering them with raiment, and those that are called the uncomely parts are covered with greater care and decency.

24. But our comely parts, viz., the hands, face, &c., require no particular care or honour in having them clothed. But God has so attempered the human body, and nicely balanced all things, as that men bestow more external honour and care on the members that require it.

25. In order that there should be no schism or division in the body in consequence of the less favoured members repining at the place allotted to them, but that all might mutually assist and anxiously co-operate with one another in promoting the welfare of the entire body.

26. And such is the concord and union established by God, that if one member suffer pain, all the others sympathize with it—if one member rejoice and feel pleasure, the others exult with it.

27. Now, you are the body of Christ, and fellow-members with each other. (As fellow-members, then, depending on each other, you should afford one another mutual aid and assistance).

28. And as the natural body is composed of different members; so it is also the case with the mystical body, or Church of Christ: God has placed in it different members destined for different purposes. First, Apostles, his own legates. Secondly, Prophets, to explain the truths of faith by a sudden inspiration. Thirdly, Doctors, having the faculty of explaining the doctrines of faith in a plain, intelligible way to the people. After these, men gifted with the divine power of working miracles. Next, those gifted with the power of curing diseases. After them, those who have the gift of consoling the miserable, and such as are in pain and sorrow. Next, those who are gifted with peculiar prudence in managing the temporalities of the Church; then those who have the gift of strange and unknown tongues; and, finally, those who have the gift of interpreting those tongues in the vernacular of the country.

29. Are all favoured with these gifts? Are all Apostles?—Prophets?—Doctors? as explained above.

30. Are all gifted with the faculty of working miracles?—or with the faculty of healing diseases?—or, with the faculty of speaking in unknown tongues?—or, with the faculty of explaining these tongues in the vernacular of the country? (By no means; for, if so, where would be the variety of members necessary to constitute an organized body?—verse 19. This diversity of gifts in the Church has been arranged by God for the greater beauty and harmony of the entire mystical body).

31. But have emulation for gifts, not the most honourable, but the most useful for yourselves and the Church. And I will point out to you a way for exercising them with profit, or, wherein you may walk, a way far exceeding any gift or endowment; and, this is charity!

Commentary

1. “Concerning spiritual things,” the Greek, πνευματικῶν, will also admit, “concerning spiritual persons.” The former is, however, the more probable rendering of the words. “I would not have you ignorant,” is a form of words requesting serious attention and undoubting faith.

2. “When you were heathens,” in which they are reminded of what they now are through the divine mercy. “When,” ὅτε, is omitted in the common Greek text, but found in the chief MSS. “You went.” The Greek is in the participial form, απαγωμενοι, you were going, it expresses custom or habit. “Dumb idols,” devoid of reason or intelligence. “As you were led,” i.e., impelled by curiosity, or custom, or the craft of die devil. The Apostle reminds the Corinthians of their former wretched condition, as the most effectual security against those feelings of pride, which their present favours were apt to engender.

3. “Wherefore,” may be connected with the preceding verse, thus: “I have reminded you of your wretched condition in Paganism, in order to make you understand the following truth, viz.”:—“That no man speaking by the Spirit of God,” &c.—A’Lapide; or, with the first verse, thus:—as “I would not have you ignorant of spiritual things” (verse 1), “I therefore,” to remove this ignorance, “give you to understand,” &c. Piconio, in his Triplex Expositio, and others, say, that the object of the Apostle, after reminding the Corinthians of their former wretched condition in Paganism (verse 2), is, to give them a sign for distinguishing from true prophets, those men who falsely pretended to heavenly revelations, many of whom they formerly witnessed, and had still to witness among the Pagans. The false prophets, when questioned about the Lord Jesus, curse him, and wish him to be anathematized, or to be regarded as an object of execration; whereas, the true prophets, under the influence of God’s spirit, pronounce his name with piety and respect. This, although a very ingenious connexion, does not seem to accord well with the context, nor is it suggested by the consideration of the passage itself. The mode of connecting it, adopted in the Paraphrase, seems much preferable, being the most natural, and the one suggested by the context. The Apostle reminds the Corinthians of their wretched condition in Paganism, from which state most of them were converted to the gospel, in order to show them that they were altogether devoid of God’s spirit, having been identified with those who anathematized the Lord Jesus, and hence, not in the way of receiving those spiritual favours of which they now boast; and, if at present, they have any favour of which to boast, it surely comes from the Spirit of God, without whose grace they could not perform the most trifling meritorious action, nor even so much as pronounce the name of Jesus in a pious manner—or, in a manner conducive to salvation. “Saith Anathema to Jesus.” In the common Greek, λεγει αναθεμα Ιησοῦν, calleth Jesus accursed. The chief MSS. have the Vulgate reading, λεγει αναθεμα Ιησους. “No man can say Lord Jesus;” in the common Greek, ειπεῖν κυρίον Ιησοῦν, that Jesus is the Lord. The chief manuscripts have the Vulgate reading, εἰπεῖν κύριος Ἰησοῦς.

4. “There are diversities of graces.” The Greek, διαιρεσεις δε χαρισματων εισιν, means, there are differences of gifts, and the same word which is here translated “graces” is translated “gifts.”—(Rom. 12:6). By it are meant the several gratiæ gratis datæ, as they are termed by Theologians, viz., the word of wisdom, prophecy, the gift of tongues, &c., enumerated by the Apostle, (verses, 8, 9, 10), as distinct from “ministries” and “operations.” Others say that the word “graces,” mentioned in this verse, is a generic term, denoting all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, under which are included “ministries” (verse 5), “operations” (verse 6), and the other gifts enumerated (verses 7, 8, 9). The former division is the more probable. These several “graces” are, by appropriation, ascribed to the “same Spirit,” or Holy Ghost, who is goodness and love, because they emanate from the gratuitous goodness of God.

5. “Ministries,” διακονιῶν, refer to the different orders of ministry established in the Church—viz., Episcopacy, Priesthood, Deaconship, &c., including also the functions committed to females—such as was confided to Phœbe, the deaconess.—(Rom. 14:1). And these are, by appropriation, attributed to the Son, “the same Lord,” because he is the head of the Church, purchased with his blood; he is our “Lord” by the special title of Redemption.

6. “Operations,” i.e., the active faculties of performing great and splendid miracles, such as raising the dead to life, &c., to distinguish them from “the grace of healing” (verse 9). These, like all the other efforts of Omnipotence, are, by appropriation, ascribed to God the Father, “who worketh all in all.” As first and primary cause, he concurs in the production of all works, whether natural or supernatural; in the former, by his concursus generalis; in the latter, by divine grace. “The same Spirit” (verse 4) “the same Lord” (verse 5), “the same God” (verse 6), serve to remind the Corinthians, that, although these gifts differ in multitude and variety, their source is still the same; and hence, that they should be the occasion of harmony rather than of disunion. The Trinity of Persons in the Godhead is here distinctly insinuated by the Apostle, with the order inverted, to indicate the perfect equality of these Persons.

7. Another reason why these gifts, which proved the occasion of division, should rather promote harmony—viz., the end for which they were given, which was, the “profit” or general utility of the entire Church; and hence, they were intended to benefit the less favoured as much as those specially favoured with them. “The manifestation of the spirit,” i.e., the gifts by which the operation of the Holy Spirit was manifested.

8. “The word of wisdom,” most probably means (as in the Paraphrase), the faculty of discoursing on, and explaining, the divine truths of faith on the principles of faith, (v.g.), to explain the congruity of the Incarnation on the grounds pointed out by faith, and all the other truths, which the Apostle terms “wisdom,” of which he treats, with the perfect.—(1 Cor. 2:7). “The word of knowledge,” (vide Paraphrase), these words may also mean, the faculty of explaining moral precepts. The term “word,” shows that in both the gifts referred to in this verse, he considers the power of discoursing on something or other. In this, and the two following verses, the Apostle enumerates the several gifts with which the primitive Church was favoured, and divides them into nine kinds.—(See Analysis).

9. “Faith.” Not the theological virtue of faith; but, the faith of miracles. It most probably consists in an extraordinary enlightenment of the intellect, joined with great confidence in God. Whatever it may consist in, we know that our Redeemer refers to it, as a means of working miracles (Mark, 9:9–23; Luke, 17:6); and so does the Apostle (next chapter, verse 2).

10. “The working of miracles.” This gift is distinguished from the preceding gift of miraculously curing bodily distempers, in this, that this gift consists in performing great and splendid manifestations of power—such as raising the dead, miraculously punishing others with sudden death—as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.—(Acts, 5:5). The Greek word for “miracles,” δυναμεων, means, manifestations of strength or power.

“To another prophecy,” most probably means, as in the Paraphrase, the gift of explaining extraordinarily, and without previous preparation, the abstruse points of Revelation. It may also denote the power of predicting future events.—(See chapter 11 verse 5).

“The discerning of spirits,” i.e., the faculty of discerning whether certain communications come from God, or are only artifices of the enemy. “Kinds of tongues.” The faculty of speaking several languages of which one before knew nothing. “Interpretation of speeches”—in Greek, γλωσσων, of tongues. The faculty of explaining in the vernacular language of the people these unknown tongues to which those who had the gift of tongues gave utterance. These two giftswere not always united in the same person. The man who could give expression to unknown tongues had not always the power of explaining them, and vice versa, as is clear in chapter 14 verse 28.

11. “Worketh.” The Greek word, ενεργει, means, inworketh, i.e., co-operates in the exercise of all these gifts—“one and the same spirit.” Hence, instead of creating disunion, the gifts should, on the contrary, be the source of harmony, as having the same cause and principle. The Apostle is not tired of repeatedly inculcating this truth—viz., that all these gifts, differing in number and variety, have, still, but one principle—the Holy Ghost—in order to reproach the Corinthians with the divisions, of which these gifts were the occasion among them. “Dividing to every one,” in the Greek, ἰδία ἑκάστῶ, severally: “as he (the Holy Ghost) wills.” In these words the Apostle conveys an additional reason why these gifts should neither be the occasion of pride to one party, nor of envy to the other; because, in the distribution of them, in giving greater gifts to one man, and lesser gifts to another, and none at all to some, the Holy Ghost is influenced solely by his own will and pleasure; for, by looking to their former state, in which they anathematized Jesus, and served dumb idols (verse 2, 3) they will find that none of them had any claim to such gifts.

12. Under an expressive metaphor, derived from the mutual co-operation and dependence of the several members of the human body the Apostle points out the relation which the different members of the mystic body, of which Christ is head, hold towards each other, and inculcates cordial union in contributing mutually to the common advantage of the entire Church, without repining on one side, or pride on the other. “As the body,” i.e., the human body, “is one,” … “and all the members of the body,” (in the common Greek, of that one body, the chief MSS. omit “one,”) “so is also Christ;” i.e., the mystic body of which Christ is head. It is needless to remind the readers of Roman history how successfully this famous apologue of the human body was employed by Menenius Agrippa in reconciling the Roman Plebeians with the Patricians.—(Vide Livy, Book ii. c. xxii.)

13. He applies to the mystic body of Christ, the two qualities which he predicated of the natural body in the preceding verse—viz., that it is one; and, secondly, that it is composed of many and different members. Applying the first part in this verse, he proves that the mystic body of Christ is one. “Baptized into one body,” i.e., by baptism ingrafted on the mystic body of Christ. “And in one spirit we have been all made to drink.” The common Greek is, εἰς ἑν πνευμα, into one spirit. The interpretation of the Paraphrase, which refers this to the Adorable Eucharist, seems preferable to any other. In the first ages of the Church, the Eucharist was given to children under the species of wine; or it might have been the general practice to administer it under that species; because, the administering of it under the one species or the other, or under both, is a point of discipline which may vary at different times according to the will of the Church. In this interpretation, the words mean, that having been “made to drink” of the Eucharist, they are formed into one spirit, in the same way, as speaking of the participation of the Eucharist under the species of bread (10:17), he says they are made, “one body.” The words may also mean, that they were filled with and drank plentifully of the grace of the same holy Ghost, which was abundantly poured out upon them.

14. He proves that the Church must be composed of different members. This follows from the very fact of its being a body. The Apostle wishes the Corinthians to learn from the natural body the duties which they owe each other. In this verse, he shows that there must be a variety in the members of the mystic body, and that all, therefore, cannot have the same gifts.

15. In this verse, the Apostle undertakes to offer consolation to the less favoured members of the Church—“the foot”—and thereby to remove all ground for murmuring on their part. He consoles them by the assurance, that they partake of the honours of the mystic body, no less than the most highly gifted and exalted of their brethren.

16. “The ear,” probably refers to the hearers, and to persons requiring instruction. “The eye,” to the learned, and to the teachers among them.

17. He shows in this verse, that consistently with the nature of a body, which must be composed of a variety of members (verse 14), all can neither hold the same place, nor enjoy the same privileges. If, in the natural body, all were reduced to an eye, where would be the ear, or sense of hearing?—where the sense of smelling? So it is also with the mystical body of Christ, if all were teachers, where would be the disciples and hearers?

18. He shows the ordination of God to be in favour of this diversity of members, as well in the mystical as in the natural body, and to the supreme and adorable will of God all should at once humbly submit.

19. In this verse he repeats, in an interrogatory form, the assertion which he already made (verse 14)—viz., that it is of the very nature of an organized body, to be composed, not of one, but of many members.

20. Here he repeats his assertion (verse 12), to the proof of which the preceding verses are devoted.

21. After addressing himself in the foregoing passage to the less honourable members, the Apostle now points out to the more highly favoured, their duties in regard to the less honoured members—viz., that they should treat them with greater attention and respect in proportion to their wants; for they stand in mutual need of each other. By “the eye” and “head” are meant these who hold an exalted position, analogous to that which the eye and head occupy in the natural body. From this verse the Apostle wishes it to be inferred, that those who hold a more exalted position in the Church cannot dispense with the aid and assistance of their more humble brethren.

22. Not only are the inferior members necessary for the more honourable, but they are indispensable for the existence of the entire body, and the most feeble are the most necessary (v.g.), the brains and intestines.

23. “The less honourable members,” probably refer to the feet and the lower part of the trunk of the body, especially the ducts, by which nature empties herself and discharges what is redundant. “More abundant honour,” by more studiously covering them with raiment. “Our uncomely parts,” probably refer to the pudenda. In the moral body they refer to sinners, who should be particularly attended to; and hence, their failings cloaked and concealed, as much as possible.

24. “But our comely parts,” such as the face, eyes, hands, “have no need” of particular care in having them clothed. This he adds, to conciliate the more highly gifted members of the Church, who might take offence at the foregoing. “But God has tempered the body together.” This he has done by making compensation to the less honoured members for their native unworthiness by adding greater external care and culture, “giving more abundant honour to that which wanted it.”

25. The schism of which St. Paul here speaks, is, of course, to be dreaded only in the moral or mystical body. To it, the Apostle wishes to apply all that he has been saying regarding the relations, which the members of the natural body bear to each other.

26. In the mystical body, the order of charity requires that all the others sympathize with the suffering, and exult with the delighted member.

27. In this verse, the Apostle tells the Corinthians and all Christians, that they should apply to themselves, as the mystical body of Christ, what he had been saying of the natural or human body; it was for the purpose of pointing out their relative duties towards one another, that he introduced the comparison between them and the natural body. “You are the body of Christ,” from which they should infer that all which has been said of the relations and duties of the several members of the natural body should be understood to apply to them, and fulfilled by them towards one another.

“And members of member,” i.e., fellow-members of the same body, mutually connected with, and depending on each other. The words are probably allusive to the passage in the Book of Genesis (2:23). “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” which is mystically understood of Christ and his Church. The words, as containing this allusion, might also mean, members of Christ, because they are members of the body of which he is head, or chief member—hence, “members of member,” μελη εκ μελους. The Greek reading runs thus: μελη εκ μερους, members in part. The Greek reading, followed by the Vulgate, and still found in the manuscripts of St. Germain and Clermont, was, εκ μελους. The meaning of the words, according to the present Greek, is, that they are particular members of Christ’s mystic body, and all, therefore, cannot have the same gifts. This interpretation accords well with the Syriac reading of the words—you are members in your proper places.

28. The Apostle adopts in this verse the similitude of the natural body to the Church; and by recounting part of the gifts and offices conferred on her, he shows that God has set the different members as he thought proper, conformably to what is said (verse 18). He places these gifts and offices in their order of dignity.

“First, Apostles.”—(See Gal. 1:1). These may be regarded as the visible head of the body, as being Christ’s representatives and vicegerents. “Secondly, Prophets.” They were gifted with the “words of wisdom” (verse 8). They may be regarded as the eyes of the body. “Thirdly, Teachers,” who had the faculty of explaining the truths of faith in a plain, simple way. They had the “word of knowledge” (verse 8); the tongue of the body. It is observed by Commentators, that these teachers of the gospel are preferred by the Apostle to those who had the gifts of miracles and of tongues, so much prized by the Corinthians. “After that, miracles.” The workers of miracles—the hands of the body. In the latter part of this verse, the Apostle employs the abstract for the concrete term. “Then, the graces of healings.” Those who are divinely endowed with the gift of healing bodily diseases. “Helps.” Those who assisted their brethren in distress, not by any miraculous operation, but by the performance of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. “Governments,” are understood by some to refer to the directors of souls. The interpretation of the Paraphrase seems preferable. “Kinds of tongues.”—(See verse 10). St. Chrysostom remarks, that almost the last place is given by the Apostle to this gift, so highly prized by the Corinthians. “Interpretation of speeches.” These words are wanting in the Greek copies. But as all Greek manuscripts give the same words in an interrogatory form, next verse—“do all interpret?” it is likely, that the Greek copy from which the Vulgate was taken, was the correct one. The Vulgate is preferred by Beza.

29, 30. The several questions are equivalent to so many negations. By them the Apostle intends to assert, that in the mystical, as well as in the natural body, a variety of functions and offices is necessary, in order to consult for the beauty and harmony of the entire body. Each one, therefore, should rest content with whatever place it may please Providence to assign him in the Church.

31. “But be zealous,” &c. The Greek word for “be zealous,” ζηλοῦτε, may be rendered, you are zealous. The Vulgate, æmulamini, “be zealous,” is preferable. Estius understands the words conditionally, thus: If you are zealous for gifts, be zealous for the better gifts. This is in accordance with the Syriac Paraphrase, and also derives probability from this consideration; that it is not likely the Apostle gives an absolute precept to be zealous for gifts, which might in the end prove injurious.

“A more excellent way.” This is charity, which leads to God and to eternal glory and which sanctifies the use of all the other gifts.








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