To Paul's third journey
To Front page: Jesus, a historical reconstruction (with website search function)
You may email the author, and learn more about him here
Note: all emphases are mine.
Written by Paul in early 55C.E. from Ephesus.
It is likely another genuine Corinthians letter was written (and lost) between '1bCorinthians' and this one (reference to it in 5:9). This "lost" letter might have explained why a partly rejected Paul finds himself again widely accepted among the Christians of Corinth (could it be because of 'Hebrews' and Apollos?). Here, as a contrast with the preceding letters, Paul is "triumphant", in control, confident, acting as a bishop, judging, commanding and chastising. He feels at liberty to ramble and says what's on his mind, sometimes revealing his inner thoughts. But most of the letter is dedicated to solving the many problems which surfaced among the believers. He also plans a visit to Corinth (his delayed second one) & a money collection there.
1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [Addition A (4-9)] [1aCorinthians inserted here]
Remark: Paul is stressing Jesus Christ as Lord.
Paul is obviously outraged at the sexual immoralities that he heard about among the Christians. For one of them, at a distance and without any chance of defence, Paul judges the man and commands: throw the immoral brother out of your community.
5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in
spirit, have already judged (as though I
were present) him who has so done this deed.
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when
you are gathered together, along with my
spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus
Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for
the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.
[if there is no boasting!]
For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed
[this short passage might have inspired the time of the "Last Supper"]
` 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
[Paul's imagery relates to the Passover (one particular day) and the overlapping Festival of the unleavened bread (14 days), when bread without yeast (a symbol of purity "sincerity and truth") is eaten, instead of the leavened bread (symbol of impurity "malice and wickedness"). Naturally, Christ's sacrifice is associated with Passover (the day in the year) as a turning point: before, "malice and wickedness"; then and after "sincerity and truth". That means: NO MORE BOASTING: "your boasting is no good"]
` 9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people [reference to a lost letter]. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."
Court fights among believers and more about
God will punish the sinners. Paul is advocating that Christians settle conflicts among themselves. Also Paul insists that big sinners, even if they are Christians, would not inherit the kingdom of God.
6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go
to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge
[here, the saints are the local Christians and they will be the Judges of Judgment day. Later, for the Romans, God will be the Judge (Ro2:5-6,16,3:6,14:10). The switch is probably due, in part, to the fact that the Corinthians were not behaving as "saints"]
` And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels [???]? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
[for Paul, "bad" Christians are not expected to go into the Kingdom to come]
` Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you.
[ex-sinners, some big time ones, were allowed to join the congregation]
` But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
[allusion to Christian baptism which would make ex-sinners exonerated of past sins. But sinning after that is not "automatically" obliterated!]
` 12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.
Back again to sexual immorality:
This is definitively a very important subject in this letter, likely the one that triggered it.
the body is not for sexual immorality
but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members
[a precursor of the Eucharist concept.
"God ... will also raise us":
Because Paul "reveals" at verse 15:51 some of the recipients of the letter will be alive at the "Day of the Lord", 'raise' entails also 'passage to heaven' (= rapture), not only (for the dead) resurrection. This expected rapture/resurrection is also mentioned in 2Co4:14]
` Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [as in 1aCo3:16-17] who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
Paul is answering questions from one letter
It is about marriage, divorce and celibate (which Paul strongly favors). It's also about circumcision, slaves and virgins (engaged young women). Paul goes in great pain to depict complete equality between men and women (except regarding the virgins, considered as possessions). Paul issues an alleged command from the Lord (7:10), but on other issues, Paul makes it plain that the commands (7:12,17,25,40) are his own.
Paul calls on people to stay as they are, on a waiting mode, because "the form of this world is passing away". Paul also advises men to keep being engaged (but not married) to a (virgin) woman forever (or rather, up to the day of the Lord, coming soon!).
7:1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and
also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And
the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive
except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. 7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself.
[unmarried. Obviously Paul is not concerned about the multiplication of Christians in the long term!]
` But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord:
["[yet] not I but the Lord" sounds like an afterthought. The following command, for both wife and husband, appears in Mk10:11-12]
` A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk [let him stay as he is]. And so I ordain [command] in all the churches.
18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised [??? Probably means: let him stay Jew]. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
[this is the beginning of the big issue of circumcision, which will become most important later on towards the end of Paul's ministry (with Jews & Gentiles eligibility for salvation)]
` 20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy. 26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress;
[allusion to the end of ages: the Kingdom is coming soon!]
` that it is good for a man to remain as he is: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you. 29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none,
[I am doubting this verse is commented upon in churches nowadays!]
` 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
[not so fast, Paul! This world is still here and the Roman empire has four centuries to go]
` 32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord; how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world; how he may please his wife. 34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world; how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. 36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin [he is engaged to], if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be [married to her], let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. 37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. 38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.
[these women are thought as objects, subservient to the will of their fiances. Paul has little human consideration for these unmarried females]
` 39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment; and I think I also have the Spirit of God.
Christian food and idolatry:
Paul acknowledges other gods (as believed by pagans?), but not Jesus as "Son of God". However Jesus is suggested to have been (as the pre-existent Word) taking part in the creation (8:5-6). The pre-existence of Christ is also postulated by "the spiritual rock" during the Exodus (10:4).
Now concerning things offered to idols:
We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth
(as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ,
[it is clear here that Paul is not accepting the concept of "Son of God", not yet]
` through whom are all things,
[this is the only allusion of Jesus as the Word of God in the Pauline epistles]
` and through whom we live. 7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. 9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. [1bCorinthians inserted here]
10:1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
[nowhere in the O.T., there is a mention of a (spiritual) rock as Christ]
` 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
[a very clear indication that "the end of the ages" was believed to come during Paul's generation]
` 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
[God is to limit the temptation to make it bearable for the elect, but God doing the tempting is not specified]
` 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
[what follows is the precursor of the "Last Supper" and Eucharist, from Paul's mind!]
` 15 I speak as to wise men;
[Paul had banished human wisdom earlier (see '1aCorinthians'). Now the believers are invited to use it!]
` judge for yourselves what I say.
[an intellectual proposition from Paul]
` 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
[another intellectual proposition follows, precursing again the Eucharist of Christians]
` 18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
[those Christians who eat knowingly the flesh of animals killed for pagan offerings act as participant to the sacrifice to idols. However, the same Christians, through the cup of blessing & broken bread are already partaker in Christ's sacrifice]
` 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons [foreign gods] and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? 23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; 26 for "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." 27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; ... 29 "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other.
[the unbeliever would be confused if the Christian guest accepts idol's meat knowingly]
` For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience ? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?
[Paul does not want a Christian to be blamed about giving thanks over and for 'idol's food']
` 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Women have to cover their head:
Paul, letting his Jewishness take hold of him (and likely revealing his personal views), starts on the wrong foot by being very discriminating against the other sex, and putting women much lower than men. He will realize the error and, from 11:10, tries to re-establish complete equality between the two genders. Then he attempts to find some other argument (away from Genesis2:7,20b-23) but goes quickly into conflict with what he said earlier in 11:5-6. There, an uncovered woman is shameful, as just like having her head shaved, but later, at 11:15, a woman's hair is her covering & glory. An exasperated Paul has to suggest the true reason (11:16): in Gentile Christian gatherings, women with uncovered hair would look bad if observed by visiting Jewish Christians.
11: 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them
to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
[Christ is inferior to God, and a woman is (way) below a man]
` 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies
[here, it is acknowledged that women prophesied (publicly)]
` with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.
[does what follow represent the personal views of Paul on women? Likely so]
` 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man [Ge2:20-23]. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.
[Oops and more Oops!!! Then complete about face: at that point, Paul probably understood that, if the previous statements are not "corrected", he will lose the support of many women, including the very generous ones of Philippi]
` 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
[??? which reason? Suddenly, the hair covering becomes a symbol of authority! And now, it's time to repair the damage caused by 11:3,7-9]
` 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord [back to equality!]. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman [back to equality again!]; but all things are from God. 13 Judge among yourselves.
[in '1aCorinthians', Paul wrote at length against human wisdom. Now, he is appealing to it, again]
` Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.
[Paul likely knows he is contradicting himself (see 10:5-6 "...with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved") and getting trapped into a mess: now the woman's long hair is considered a head covering! Certainly, he is not going anywhere: the time has come to forget about intellectual arguments using dubious logic & controversial basis and be more direct:]
` 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
The Lord Last Supper:
Please note this passage is in the midst of others where Paul tries to solve problems, using different methods:
Earlier, he exerted himself very clumsily in order to justify a directive against "woman's uncovered head".
Later, he will attempt to bring order against those speaking together in tongues.
Here, we have another example of problem solving against the sinful conducts occurring when the community was sharing a common meal: the "Lord Supper".
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. [Addition B (23-28)] 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
The whole assembly speaking in (unintelligible)
tongues at the same time is ridiculous:
Paul does not see the "speaking in tongues" as an important spiritual gift (he strongly preferred public prophesying) and warns the practices of the "gifts" might take out the "love", which is absolutely necessary. Paul also suggests a member could not expect (or pretend) to have all the "gifts" but, as one part of the body (the church), only one. Then again, he proposes a clever solution in order to curtail the problem of collective speaking in tongues.
Also, the importance of the Spirit is stressed as the great teacher through the local prophets. And the church (the body) is much more important than any member in it. Paul, in veiled terms, warns about individually minded members trying to outdo the others and fears the non-competitive "weak" ones might feel out of place.
12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: 2 You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. [emphasis is on Jesus as Lord] 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
Remark: what follows is the best known passage in Paul's letters, and probably also his best.
13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
Now, back to prophecies and tongues (and again love)
But whether there are prophecies, they will
fail; whether there are tongues, they will
cease; whether there is knowledge, it will
vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish
things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
[obviously Paul wants the Christians of Corinth to concentrate on prophecies]
` 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. 6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? 7 Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? 8 For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. 11 Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. 12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. 13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. 16 Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? 17 For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. 21 In the law it is written: "With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me," says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
[an unbeliever could barge in a Christian assembly, at any given time! Despite this evidence, some writers want us to think these early Christians were participating in some "mystery" secretive cult]
` 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you. 26 How is it then, brethren?
[what follows is very revealing on what the early Christian community of Corinth gatherings looked like. It is clear believers' assemblies then were open-ended, free-for-all, disorganized, without any liturgy & leader]
` Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
[that would take all the fun out of speaking in tongues! Then the interpreter would have to be careful enough to translate the same utterance by the same Greek word!]
` 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, [that's what Paul obviously wants] and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace [Addition C] 36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
A circular argument to prove resurrections:
Let's note here Jesus' resurrection is mainly a matter of faith and trust in Paul's preaching. Also, let's notice Paul invokes Jesus' resurrection only when trying to "prove" the future resurrections of the dead Christians. This passage will attract latter insertions.
15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word
which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain.
if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead
[only preached?], how do some among you say that there is
no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead,
then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching
is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up
Christ, whom He did not raise up; if in fact the
dead do not rise.
[that does not sound like Jesus being raised was a "physically" proven fact, testified by eyewitnesses. In this passage, it is clear that a "raised Christ" belief is conditional of two points:
a) Trust in Paul's preaching & faith: "we are ... witnesses of God", "we have testified of God [here "of" is the translation for (Greek) 'kata', which means, according to Strong: "1) down from, through out, 2) according to, toward, along"]"
b) Belief that dead persons can be raised (in the future), as in 15:13&16]
` 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
[the Christians of Corinth were preoccupied about their dead ones not entering the soon to arrive & promised eternal kingdom. Paul is playing on that to get them to believe in resurrections, including Jesus' one]
` 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. [Addition E] 29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?
[it seems some Corinthians were baptized on behalf of dead persons, hoping those will also enter the Kingdom to come. Paul uses this weird practice to show these Christians acknowledged (indirectly) future resurrections. According to Richard Carrier: "Both sources (Plato and inscriptions) also confirm the Bacchic belief that one could be baptized on behalf of someone who had already died and thus gain them a better position in the afterlife."]
` 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me?
[a dubious argument: the preaching of Paul, because of associated efforts & risks, would be a proof of its truthfulness about the raising of the dead]
` If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" 33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Remark: it appears "dead rising" comes from "the knowledge of God", according to Paul (as also suggested in 15:15, regarding Christ's).
Another issue: in which form the dead (and
the live ones) will be raised?
The heavenly bodies will be immortal (not flesh and blood), spiritual but also a body (the best of all worlds!).
35 But someone will say,
"How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?"
36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain; perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also
and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The
is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a
spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the
is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
[clear indication that Jesus, the heavenly Man, is not a (Son of) God yet, according to Paul]
` 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
[Christians were led to believe they would resemble a heavenly man during their eternal life. Also here, it seems Paul was very much inspired by Philo of Alexandria: "There are two kinds of men. The one is Heavenly Man, the other earthly. The Heavenly Man being in the image of God has no part in corruptible substance, or in any earthly substance whatever; but the earthly man was made of germinal matter which the writer [of Genesis] calls "dust." For this reason he does not say that the Heavenly Man was created, but that he was stamped with the image of God, whereas the earthly man is a creature and not the offspring of the Creator." (Allegorical Interpretation of the Law I,31)]
` 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;
[then, the "Nazarenes" and Jewish Christians believed otherwise (see HJ-2b and HJ-3b). That would explain the troubles of Paul on this issue]
` nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep,
[the Kingdom is supposed to come before Paul and all his Christians die]
` but we shall all be changed [transfiguration]; 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" [Addition F] 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
The collection to the saints (in Jerusalem)
and the travel plans:
It seems the Corinthians would have preferred to see Apollos rather than Timothy (or Paul!). Paul plans to come later (through Macedonia first) but he is not so sure on how long he will stay and where to go next. It also looks that this passage about the collection is too much business-like, botched up & hurried likely because Paul wants to finish the long, tiring & very demanding letter. But it gives the impression he is only interested in getting the money when visiting the Corinthians (possibly privately & briefly, while Paul seems more interested by his Christians from Macedonia than the ones in Corinth). That could be one reason why Paul will be rejected by them months later, during his visit here.
16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me. 5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries [as described in Ac19:1-41]. 10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren. 12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.
Last exhortations, greetings and conclusion:
13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love. 15 I urge you, brethren; you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints; 16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. 17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied.
[possible allusion to money: the Corinthians had not been generous with Paul (1bCorinthians9:3-8,13-14). The three men (from Corinth) appear to be the ones who brought the news (good & bad!), causing Paul to write the letter in order to "solve" the "problems". They were probably waiting for Paul to finish his letter before going back home]
` 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men. 19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla [they are in Ephesus now as in Ac18:18-19,26] greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 The salutation with my own hand; Paul's.
[Paul dictated this letter. Consequently, in front of his scribe/helper (who probably thought Paul was inspired from above), he could not loose face and ask for rewriting, either in part (and in these days, erasing words (cleanly!) was impossible) or whole. It is also likely, because of its numerous (& demanding) topics, this letter was written over several days or weeks]
` 22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
1cCORINTHIANS: later additions
1:4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
A) Paul says in the same letter that no one should expect to have many spiritual gifts: 1Co12:1-31. There, only one gift per person is given by the Spirit "just as he determines". Consequently Paul could not have stated "that you come short in no gift".
B) The expressions "testimony of Christ" and "fellowship of Son/Jesus/Christ/Lord" are never used
by Paul anywhere else, even if he mentioned
"testimony of God" (once):
1Co2:1 "And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God."
But the "fellowship with Jesus" will appear in 1Jn1:3,6; and the "testimony of our Lord" in 1Ti1:8.
Note: 'fellowship' => Greek 'koinonia', 'testimony' => Greek 'marturion'
C) "Revelation(s)" or "revealed" (Greek root
'apokalupsis') are never meant by Paul as
"second coming" (of Jesus), but rather as
Paul uses "revelation" (or "revealed") nine times in his (authentic) letters: 1Co14:6,26, 2Co12:1,7, Gal1:12,2:2, Ro2:5,8:19,16:25,
Gal1:12 "For I neither received it [the gospel] from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."
However, later, "revelation" will be used three times as "second coming" in 2Th1:7 & 1Pe1:7,13.
Also "day of our Lord ..." does not appear in Paul's letters, only the biblical expression "day of the Lord ...": 1Th5:2, 1Co5:5, 2Co1:14
D) 1Co1:4-9 parallels, sometimes duplicates the first (authentic) introduction (1:1-3) and the overall style appears too much sophisticated when compared to Paul's one.
1Co1:4-9 was probably written as a general introduction for the two re-edited (canonical) Corinthians letters:
Paul's letters, even by being combined (around 100-110C.E), exposed the earliest Christians of Corinth as being sinful & unruly. The latter author did not want to antagonize the descendants of those Christians. Consequently, he had Paul congratulating his contemporaries beyond measure and assuring them of salvation. That implied all the "shameful" things they did, as appearing in the letters, were of little importance overall.
11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also
delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed
[the Greek word can also be translated as 'delivered', as in the YLT & Darby bibles]
` took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
A) Just one chapter before the Last Supper description in the epistle, Paul wrote:
1Co10:15-16 "I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. [these words indicate the following intellectual proposition was new for the Corinthians]
` Is not the cup of Thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?"
How could Paul propose such a concept if he knew Jesus originated the Eucharist and the Christians were already told about it (1Co11:23)?
1Co10:18 "Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?"
Why would Jewish rituals and beliefs be considered if the Corinthians & Paul already knew about the Last Supper?
B) On verse 11:29, two interpolations, not showing in the most ancient manuscripts, were made, adding "unworthily" and "Lord's" (as shown below), most likely by the same person, according to http://www.laparola.net/greco/. It seems the insertion of 11:23-28 caused an interpolator to make the two additions for the sake of continuity (bridging the gap between 23-28 and what follows):
"For he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body"
"unworthily" is used in verse 27 of the Last Supper (23-28) as such:
"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord."
With its two interpolations, verse 29 is linked to verse 27 and the Eucharist. Without them, verse 29 refers to those who eat and drink too much and therefore not taking care of their own body (which is spelled out more in verse 30), as a continuation of the theme of verses 20-22.
C) Without these interpolations and 11:23-28, the passage is well focused and all about fixing one of the problems among the Christians of Corinth:
"17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's supper [a common meal shared by Christians]. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come."
D) Let's notice verses 29-32 would motivate the abusive Corinthians to correct themselves, when the added Last Supper (23-28) does not. It is not relevant for preventing early eating & drinking at a Lord's supper hosting house (and excessive eating & drinking at home).
E) 'Hebrews' (written before GMark) is not aware of any Last Supper, even if the epistle main theme would call for it to be put forward.
F) The practice of eating bread first (in antiquity, the main food) and then after the meal drinking wine, is a Gentile tradition and not a Jewish one: "... a two part sequence of eating and drinking, of breaking bread and pouring a libation before drinking wine, or more simply, of bread and wine, summarizes and symbolizes the whole process of a Greco-Roman formal meal" John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus.
According to these remarks, it would be rather strange for a Jew (such as Paul) to propose the sequence (bread then wine), more so as allegedly originating from another Jew (Jesus).
14:33 as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
This short passage is in total conflict with 7:1-40, of the same letter. Here Paul goes in great pain to establish full equality between men and women.
In 11:3-15, Paul starts on the wrong foot, by discriminating against women in order to justify that women should cover their head at Christian gatherings. Then, Paul realizes the problem: he abandons the main topic and tries to recover:
1Co11:11-12 "woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For a woman came from man, so also man is born of woman."
That shows that Paul is adamant in depicting women as not inferior to men.
B) From 11:5 of the same letter, "... every woman who prays or prophecies ...", Paul thought that women, as the men, could participate (vocally) in Christian meetings. That would conflict with 13:44.
Note: the act of prophesying was public and loud:
1Co14:4 4 "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church."
1Co14:29 "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge."
The addition seems to be an outright insertion. Why would Paul digress suddenly into demeaning remarks against Christian women, reducing their public participation as just dummies, in complete contradiction of what he states in the same letter?
Some early manuscripts show 1Co14:33-34 located right after 14:40, where the two verses seem less an insertion. Would it be an acknowledgment by early Christians that the two verses are too obvious as an interpolation and needed relocation?
The addition is indicative about the treatment of Christian women later on (after Paul's times):
1Ti2:11-14 "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."
15:3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God [which was] with me. 11 Therefore, whether [it was] I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
A) The earliest gospel (Mark's) does not have "the third day" but "after three days" (Mk8:31,9:31,10:34), although Jesus' death only lasts about forty hours (maximum). Then, if "the third day" was accepted by Paul's contemporaries, and "according to the scriptures",
why did it not appear in Mark's gospel?
However, "third day" came later with Matthew's gospel (Mt16:21,17:23,20:19) and Luke's one (Lk9:22,13:32,18:32). And in the later, "the third day" is according to the scriptures:
Lk24:45-46 "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,"
Let's compare the above quote with:
1Co15:3b-4 "... Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures"
Nowhere in the pre-Pauline scriptures there is anything about someone rising on the third day. But it seems our interpolator knew about GLuke!
Note: 1Co15:3a-8a is about "factual" items: death, burial and many post-mortem visions ("evidencing" the resurrection). But one exception is among them: "for our sins" is a theological point, not an observable fact. And there is no "atonement for sins" in the rest of 1Corinthians (and 1Thessalonians), but it appears in later epistles (2Co5:19a,21a;Gal1:3b-4a;Ro3:23-25,4:25a). Was it inserted for sake of "homogeneity"?
Remark: it seems Tertullian (around 210) did not have "for our sins" in his copy of 1Corinthians:
Against Praxeas (186):"[Paul] testifies that "He died according to the Scriptures,""
Against Praxeas (409): "For even the apostle, to his declaration-which he makes not without feeling the weight of it-that "Christ died," immediately adds, "according to the Scriptures,""
B) 1Co15:5-8 "and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time"
In the canonical gospels and 'Acts', there are only two reappearances corresponding to the ones in 1Co15:5-8:
a) One mention (but no description) of a resurrected Jesus appearing to Peter only (Lk24:34).
b) Three different (especially on "who heard the voice" and Jesus' words) accounts of Jesus appearing to Paul (as a light and a voice) near Damascus (Ac9:3-8,22:6-11,26:12-18).
Beside these two alleged reappearances, there is NO mention in the gospels or 'Acts' of the other ones in 1Co15:3-8:Many of the apparitions in 1Co15:3-8 (and their alleged sequence) do not appear in any gospel (or 'Acts'). On this matter of greatest importance, how could all the gospel authors be ignorant about many of these reapparitions, either through Paul's letter or from oral traditions?
a) The twelve only (however in Mt28:16-20, he appears to the eleven; in Jn20:19-23, to ten)
b) Over five hundred brethren at once
c) James (Jesus' brother). Note: one apparition to James is narrated in each of the uncanonical gospels "to the Hebrews" and "of Philip". The descriptions are very different between the two.
d) All the apostles (early Christian missionaries)
Then, these following reapparitions described in the gospels are not part of the ones in the sequence of 1Co15:3-8:
a) To the two women near Jerusalem (Mt:28:9-10)
b) To the eleven in Galilee (Mt28:17-20)
c) To the two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus (Judea) (Lk24:13-35)
d) To the eleven, the two aforementioned disciples and some other followers in Jerusalem (Lk24:36-49), but not 500 of them in a room! According to Ac1:20, there are only 120 followers then!
e) To Mary Magdalene only, near Jerusalem (Jn20:10-18)
f) To disciples, with a maximum of ten out of the "twelve" (Jn20:19-23), again in a room
g) To six disciples in Galilee (Jn21:1-23)Note: the earliest gospel (Mark's) did not include resurrected Jesus' apparitions, just the empty tomb (as explained in "HJ-3a").
C) Except for 1Co15:3-8, in his letters Paul never mentioned Christ's apparitions to others. At times, Jesus "risen from the dead" is presented as based on faith:
1Th4:14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."
1Co15:14-15 "And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God [here, the knowledge of a raised Christ would come from God, not from men!] that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up; if in fact the dead do not rise."
Ro10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Note: another very early letter, 'Hebrews' (see HJ-3b: last Section) does not relate of any alleged Jesus' reappearances. Just that, after his death (crucifixion, sacrifice), Christ went to heaven (Heb1:3,10:12,12:2). What was the author's justification? Christ had to become the High Priest on behalf of Christians, in the true (heavenly) temple (Heb8:1-2,4-5a,9:11-12,24).
D) These two expressions appear only in 1Co15:3-11 (among the authentic Pauline epistles):
a) "according to the scriptures"
b) "the twelve [disciples]"
This is very odd because:
- For the former, besides 1Co15:3-4, the word 'scriptures' (plural) appears only in 'Romans' (1:2;15:4&16:26), Paul's last letter. 'Scriptures' simply does not exist in the other epistles (including '2Corinthians' and 'Galatians') and therefore seems to be a late entry in Paul's vocabulary (the singular 'scripture' is only used in 'Galatians' (three times) & 'Romans' (four times), Paul's two last epistles). Also let's notice the two 'scriptures' in 1Co15:3-4 show an accusative case, not existing in 'Romans', but the same as in Lk24:45 (previously quoted). - For the later, Paul mentioned the members of the Church of Jerusalem several times (1Co16:1,3;2Co8:4,13-15;9:1,12-15;Gal2:1-10;Ro15:25-26,31), but never the twelve.
In conclusion, "the twelve" and "according to the scriptures" were not likely written by Paul.
"For I am the least of the apostles ..."
In the context of the letter, Paul's demeaning statement about himself is totally out of place. '1cCorinthians' is about a "triumphant" Paul, very confident (1Co11:34b), judging a sinner at a distance (5:3-5), commanding as the "Lord" would (1Co7:10,12), complimenting then chastising (1Co11:17-22). Why would he say such a thing here?
And in earlier times, Paul had problems to be accepted as an apostle and was suffering from any competition (1Co1:12,9:1-3). Consequently, making statement like 1Co15:9 would be stupid, self-destructive and sending the wrong signals.
Earlier, he made a passionate defense of his apostolic credentials in 1Co9:1-27. Later, Paul will write, to the same Christians:
2Co11:5 "For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles." (totally the opposite of 1Co15:9!).
F) 1Co15:11 "... Therefore, whether [it was] I or they, so we preach and so you believed"
Let's notice first the implied sequence does not make sense: the preaching has to be first, then followed by the conversions (believing). But here, through the tenses being used, we have the opposite. Furthermore:
- the present tense in "preach" is very suspicious. Let's compare it with 1Th2:9 "... we preached to you ...", with the past tense denoting justifiably that the preaching had been done by Paul before writing the letter.
And corroborated from the same 1cCorinthians letter:
15:1-2 "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you ..."
Note: the tense in "preach" may indicate the interpolator was thinking about himself or other presbyters as part of "they".- why would Paul use the past tense in "believed" rather than the present, when the converts are still believing?
This passage displays the signs of having been written by someone who struggled to intermix the past (Paul's times) with the present (the interpolator's times).
If Paul had written this passage, then the tense of the verbs would be as such:
1Co15:11b "... so we preached and so you believe"
The interpolator probably wanted to say (in 15:11) it did not matter from where the Christian message came (Paul, other apostles or even contemporary presbyters): "Therefore, whether [it was] I or they, so we preach and so you believed"
And the demeaning statement in 15:9 can now be interpreted as lowering Paul. In other words, the Christian message was preached as well (possibly better) by others, not only by (suspect) Paul!
G) 1Co15:3-11 looks like an insertion within 1Co15:1-22. Without it, 1-2 not only provides a good introduction for 12-22, but also connects smoothly with the next verse through the emphasis on Paul's preaching. Let's also notice the extensive use of the Greek word 'de' (whose most normal translation is "and" or "but"), providing continuity in the long argument from the very beginning:
"1 Moreover ['de'], brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. 12 Now ['de'] if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But ['de'] if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And ['de'] if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes ['de'], and ['kai' can be translated as "also"] we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up; if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And ['de'] if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. ..."
H) 1Co15:12-22 suggests the belief in Jesus' raising is from:
- (general) preaching (12)
- believing the resurrection of the dead is possible (13,15b,16)
- acceptance of Paul's preaching (14a,15a)
- God himself, as testified by Paul (& helpers) (!?) (15c)
and for the purpose of:
- sustaining (Christian) faith (14b,17)
- believing the dead Christians have not "perished" (18,20)
- preventing Christians to be considered fool (19)
Then why is Jesus' resurrection argued this way if it was then a widely corroborated fact?
And such statements from the epistle look strange and unsettling, raising many doubts, that is, if not (right in front) superseded by "tangible" "evidence" from many still alive witnesses. And Paul could not be shown ignorant of post-mortem appearances, which later became the main "proof" of the Resurrection. A fix had to be done!
15:23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He [God, according to Heb2:8] who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
For Paul, Jesus is the gentle & meek Christ ("by the meekness and gentleness of Christ"
2Co10:1a) and never a king. His role during "the day of the Lord" is to welcome the Christians (resurrected or alive then), between earth and heaven (1Th4:16-17). Also, at Judgment Day, Paul has Christ assisting God in exposing the motives of men's hearts: 1Co4:5,
Ro2:16 "in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel."
For Paul, that's the extant of Christ's role on the day of the Lord.
And in 'Hebrews':
Heb10:12-13 "But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool,"
However later, that will change and culminate in 'Revelation', where Jesus is leading the reconquest (as suggested in 1Co15:24-26):
Rev19:11b-16 "... He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. ... He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God ... He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
Note: the author of '1Timothy' tried to "correct" the claim of 'Revelation':
1Ti6:15 NASB "... He ["... the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, ..." (1:17)]
` who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,"
In 1Co15:26 ("The last enemy that will be destroyed is
death"), the interpolator added up a piece of apocalyptic beliefs which came after Paul's times, as in 'Revelation', where Death is put to death:
Rev20:14 "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death."
In 1Co15:27-28, the interpolator probably reacted against those who believed (or preached) that Christ (the Son) would supplant God (the Father). That was never an issue addressed in this letter, where Christ is presented always below God:
11:3 "the head of every man is Christ, ... , and the head of Christ is God"
However, beliefs that Christ has assumed God's functions and replaced him will appear later. It seems 1Co15:27-28 is mainly addressing the following from 'Ephesians', written around 80-100, and likely to generate some debates:
Eph1:20b-22a "... [God] seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, ..."
Then why would Paul make such a (badly written, confusing & highly concentrated) digression on topics (apocalyptic scenario, Jesus as the King of the great reconquest, death of Death, against Jesus being above God), which do not appear anywhere else in his letters?
15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
In the whole epistle, sin is never associated
with the law, but here that comes abruptly
and unannounced. Also in that letter, the
"law" of Moses is not described
in unfavorable terms. More, it is even quoted
by Paul in order to serve his purpose, twice
(1Co9:8-9 & 1Co14:21)!
Furthermore, that appears to be a digression, in a passage (15:35-58) which is about immortality of the resurrected body and never features 'law' or 'sin'.
However later, in 'Romans', Paul will link death, sin & law:
Ro7:8b-9a "For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died."
Ro8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."