Ist Period III
- IV to conclusion
2nd Period 2nd Journey
|CHRONOLOGY OF THE ACTS||
|St_Paul_Letter_to_the_Colossians||St_Paul_Letter_to_the_Ephesians||St_Paul_Letter_to_Philemon||St Paul’s Pastoral Letters|
|Apostolic Writings from Persecution under Nero to death of St John (64-104 A.D.)||St Paul's Pastoral
Letters: 1 Timothy
Titus and 2 Timothy Letter to Hebrews
The Apostles' 7 Letters called Catholic
|James, 1 & 2; Peter, Jude, 1, 2 & 3 John|| The Apocalypse
|61 Departure and visit to the churches of Galatia||62 Apollos at Ephesus and Corinth||63 Paul at Ephesus||64 The riot of the silversmiths of Ephesus||65 A
short stay in Greece
|66 The Return Journey: Troas||67 The Return Journey: Troas||68 The farewell to the Elders of Ephesus||69 From Miletus to Tyre and Caesarea||70 Introduction|
|71 Divisions and discords among the Christians in Corinth||72 Contrast between the Apostle's humiliation and the Corinthians' presumption||73 Respect for the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit||74 Marriage and virginity||75 Zeal and unselfishness in St Paul's apostolate|
|76 You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of devils||77 The celebration of the Eucharist||78 Varieties of gifts and unity of the Church||79 Hymn to Love||80 The resurrection of the dead|
|81 The collection for the poor at Jerusalem: conclusion of the Letter||82
The Apostle's tribulations and hopes
Paul defends his authority as Apostle
Paul gives reasons for boasting
|1st Letter to the Church in Corinth was written when and where ? Answer||St Paul was reared
in Cilicia and renowned for profession as? Answer
||So it is with
of the dead
For as often as you eat this bread
III. St Paul's third missionary journeyPaul's third missionary journey is noteworthy for his long stay at Ephesus. The city was one of the most flourishing of the Roman Empire in the East, and the centre of much commercial activity between East and West. Its population was estimated at about 300,000. The city became a centre from which Christianity spread to the neighboring cities; his disciples had founded new communities: e.g. Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Paul had not yet visited them.
The absence of any personal reference in the Letter called 'To the Ephesians' (see Introduction, No. 124) has led some scholars to suppose that it may have been a circular Letter to all the communities centered in Ephesus.
|61 Departure and visit
to the churches of Galatia
(Acts 18, 23)
21 After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
62 Apollos at Ephesus and Corinth
(Acts 18, 24-28)
24 Now a Jew named Apollos, (1) a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures.25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though knew only the baptism of John.
| 26 He began to speak boldly
in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him
and expounded to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And when he wished to
cross to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples
to receive him. When he arrived, he
greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for he powerfully confuted
the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
(1) The appearance of Apollos, a Hellenistic Jew, tells us of the beginning of the Christian Church at Alexandria in Egypt and shows us how the echo of the preaching of John the Baptist and Jesus reached as far as the most important centres of the Diaspora. His teaching, evidently, knew nothing of the developments of that preaching after Pentecost.
63 Paul at Ephesus
(Acts 19, 1-22)
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve of them in all.
8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, arguing and pleading about the kingdom of God; 9 but when some were stubborn and disbelieved, speaking evil of The Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the hall of Tyrannus.
10 This continued for two
years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both
Jews and Greeks.
11 And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest (1) named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And all residents of Ephesus knew this, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily.
21 Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
(1) The description 'High Priest' merely shows that this man belonged to a family from which had come some High Priests.
64 The riot of the silversmiths
(Acts 19, 23-41)
23 About that time there arose no little stir concerning the Way. (1) 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen.
|25 These he gathered together,
with the workmen of like occupation, and said, "Men, you know that from this
business we have our wealth. 26 And you see and hear
that not only at Ephesus but almost throughout all Asia this Paul has persuaded
and turned away a considerable company of people, saying that gods made with
hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger
not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the
temple of the great goddess Artemis may count for nothing, and that she may
even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship."
28 When they heard this they were enraged, and cried out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29 So the city was filled with the confusion; and they rushed together into the theatre, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel. 30 Paul wished to go in among the crowd, but the disciples would not let him; 31 some of the Asiarchs also, who were friends of his, sent to him and begged him not to venture into the theatre. 32 Now some cried one thing, some another; for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. 33 Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, wishing to make a defense to the people. 34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all with one voice cried out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 35 And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, "Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky?
36 Seeing then that these things cannot be contradicted, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. 37 For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.
38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against any one, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, there being no cause that we can give to justify this commotion." 41 And when he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.
(1) 'The Way' was
one of the names that came to be used to mean the new doctrine, i.e. the
Way of the Lord. See also Nos. 103 and 107. For notes about the Ephesian Artemis see Introduction,
65 A short stay in Greece
(Acts 20, 1-6)
1 After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples and having exhorted them took leave of them and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through these parts and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when the Jews made a plot against him as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater of Beroea, the son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on and were waiting for us at Troas, (1) 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.
(1) Here begins the second 'we-section' which goes on to No. 69 and starts again at No. 101 (see notes to Nos. 45 and 112, and Introduction p. 37).
66 The Return Journey: Troas
(Acts 20, 7-12)
7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus was sitting in the window.
He sank into
a deep sleep, as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he
fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and
bent over him, and embracing him said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is
in him." 11 And when Paul had gone
up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until
daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the lad
away alive, and were not a little comforted.
67 Troas to Miletus
(Acts 20, 13-16)
13 But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos [Turkey], intending to take Paul aboard there; for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene [port So end Lesbos Isl.]. 15 And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios [North Aegean Isl.]; the next day we touched at Samos [Isl.]; and the day after that we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.
68 The farewell to the Elders of Ephesus
(Acts 20, 17-38)
17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they came to Him he said to them:
"You yourselves know how I lived among you all the time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews;
20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there; 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that all you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did, not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians, to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
32 And now I commend you
to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to
give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one's silver
or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know
that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with
me. 35 In all things I have
shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words
of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'
36 And when he had spoken thus, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And they all wept and embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they should see his face no more. And they brought him to the ship.
69 From Miletus to Tyre and Caesarea
(Acts 21, 1.14)
1 And when we had departed from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos [Island]; and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard, and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4 And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. 5 And when our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey; and they all, with wives and children, brought us on our way till we were outside the city; and kneeling down on the beach we prayed and bade one another farewell. 6 Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.
7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais; and we greeted the brethren and stayed with them for one day. 8 On the morrow we departed and came to Caesarea; and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 And he had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. 10 While we were staying for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said,
"Thus says the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." (1) 12 When we heard this, we and the people there begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, "The will of the Lord be done."
(1) The action taken by the prophet Agabus was symbolic in the manner of the prophets of the Old Testament. See similar analogous actions in Isaiah 20 and Jeremiah 19 and 27, 2-10. It was a mode of expression dear to Orientals, in which words were accompanied by an exterior action expressing the same message in visible form.
THE TEXT OF THE ACTS IS RESUMED IN NO. 101
IV. St Paul's Letters written during the third missionary journeyFrom St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians
The first Letter to the Church in Corinth was written during St Paul's long residence in Ephesus (see No. 63) between the years 55 and 57.
Corinth, a commercial and cosmopolitan city and the seat of the proconsul of Achaia, had been evangelized by St Paul in the course of the second missionary journey during his stay of at least 18 months beginning towards the end of the year 50 (see No. 51). The community at Corinth was zealous and generous, in fact extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit appeared among them (see No. 78), but they showed themselves somewhat unruly and liable to split up into factions or parties, according to each person’s sympathy with particular preachers of the Gospel. One of these was Paul himself, another was Cephas (or better Kephas), i.e. the apostle Peter; another was Apollos who came to Corinth for a short time (see No. 62) and aroused enthusiasm by his biblical learning and Greek eloquence.
There were also other disorders of a moral and disciplinary nature. Because of all this St Paul, not being able to return immediately to Corinth, wrote this first letter. It is of great doctrinal importance and falls into two principal sections.
In the first part the Apostle condemns the disorders in the Corinthian Christian community, i.e. the division into religious parties, the exaggerated esteem of style in preaching (which is divine and not human wisdom), a case of public scandal, going before pagan tribunals with suits between Christians, and lastly the fact that many were failing back into the vice of fornication.
second part St Paul gives the answers to various questions posed by the Corinthians,
about marriage and
about the use of meats offered to idols, about order in liturgical assemblies,
about the use of charisms and about the resurrection of the dead. We
record here the outstanding points, still pertinent in the Church today.
1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God, which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge - 6 even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you -
7 so that you are not
lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord
Jesus Christ; 8 who will sustain you
to the end, guiltless 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.
10 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarrelling among you, my brethren. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius; 15 lest any one should say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any one else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
71 Divisions and discords among the Christians in Corinth
1 But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? 4 For when one says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely men?
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
7 So neither he who plants nor he
who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he
who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.9 For we are God's fellow
workers; you are God's field, God's building.
10 According to the commission of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble 13 each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.
18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," 20 and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." 21 So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours; 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
'Carnal' as opposed to 'spiritual' in St Paul's language, indicates those who reason with a human mentality, instead of being inspired by the logic of the faith.
The Corinthian Christians were 'carnal' because they judged the 'wisdom' of the preachers by their external qualities. Apollos, a person otherwise worthy and straightforward enough, must have charmed some with his eloquence and use of philosophical ideas while others, of Jewish origin and culture, preferred the distant Peter (Cephas) for motives which were still human, i.e. because they thought of him as one of themselves.
the 'spiritual' principle, on which St Paul insists, is to consider God as
the only source of the Church's life. The Church is like a field: the apostles
and preachers are only God's tools: the work of each is useful and necessary
but God alone makes it fruitful. The Church is also a building founded
on Christ's teaching: every preacher builds on this foundation and will have
to give an account of his own work. As the preacher must not boast of his
own work, so the faithful must not take a pride in their own preachers and
cling to some rather than to others. The mention of fire shows, metaphorically,
the judgment of God on the work of the preachers of the Gospel: they may build
with precious and lasting material, that is, eternal truth, or they may be
tempted to do work of their own choice, for their own personal and petty
glory (wood, hay, straw).
The last judgment ('that day') will be like a fire: all the work done for human motives will end by being burnt up.
It will be a great thing if the unfortunate preacher saves even himself, like one who barely escapes, while all his goods are destroyed by fire.
72 Contrast between the Apostle's humiliation and the
8 Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you. 9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill clad and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things.
14 I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
| 16 I urge you then, be
imitators of me. 17 Therefore I sent to
you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of
my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
18 Some are arrogant, as
though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you
soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant
people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God
does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish?
Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
St Paul sometimes uses irony, with which he wishes to touch to the quick the hearts of his Christians, to whom he writes, by dictation, as if he had them before his eyes. Here the irony is truly bitted. Paul is for them as a father who has begotten them in the Christian faith, but now they believe they have out-distanced their old father: they have become wise ('full, rich, rulers') without him. 'Would that it were at least true!' says the Apostle sadly 'then I also might be able to have some small position by your side'. And in contrast with this vaunted spiritual well being of the Corinthians he describes the humiliations of his own complete dedication to the apostolate as those of a poor vagabond, 'a fool' for Christ.
But after the sad irony and the tenderness of a father who sees himself set aside, we have the forceful affirmation of his own apostolic authority. May the great and small 'rebels' of our own day re-read these words.
73 Respect for the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
12 "All things are lawful
for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me,"
but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 "Food is meant for the
stomach and the stomach for food" - and God will destroy both one and the
other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord
for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord
and will also raise us up by his power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two shall become one.” 17 But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? 20 You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Corinth was proverbial for its corruption and for the thousand priestesses of Venus consecrated to temple prostitution. It is not to be wondered at that the Christians of the city, but lately converted, were again conscious of the temptations of the flesh and that some returned to their former vices.
The principles of individual or social utilitarianism are of little value against such bad habits. St Paul appeals firmly to the highest principles of the Christian faith. Our body is not a prison to scorn or a beast of burden to satisfy with whatever fodder pleases it. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit! By virtue of baptism it has a mysterious but real relationship with the body of the risen Christ, and is itself, this fleshly body, destined to rise, transformed and glorious.
Therefore the body deserves respect and reverence: if it is made the instrument of sin it is profaned and set in opposition to its sacred character and glorious destiny.
'All things are lawful for me' was probably a phrase dictated by St Paul to express the liberty of Christians by contrast with the coercive nature of the precepts of the Old Testament. But there were Corinthian Christians who misused this phrase to justify a certain carelessness with regard to sensual relationships. St Paul protested against such an interpretation: all things are permitted to the Christian, but not in such a way as to make him the slave of sin and place him in opposition to his freedom, which has its foundation in his relationship with Christ. Instead, true conjugal relations, symbols not of selfishness but of total dedication are not only not harmful to his relationship with Christ, but are also a sacramental sign, a symbol of the fellowship of love and life between Christ and the faithful (see No. 127).
|74 Marriage and virginity
(7, 1-17, 25-35, 39-40)
1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his. 5 Do not refuse one another except for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control. 6 I say this by way of concession, not of command. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them remain single as I do. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.
10 To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)-and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
12 To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is they are holy.
|15 But if the unbelieving
partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or
sister is not bound. For God has called us to peace. 16 Wife, how do you know
whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether
you will save your wife?
17 Only, let every one lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
25 Now concerning the unmarried, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the impending distress it is well for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I have the Spirit of God.
Note that in this passage St Paul does not set out to discuss the whole doctrine of marriage which he will have occasion to deal with in the Letter to the Ephesians (see No. 127) but is replying to queries of a practical nature which the Corinthians had put to him by letter.
|A careful reading of the passage,
already clear in itself, brings out the following points:
(1) Virginity is better than marriage if it is embraced not for selfish reasons but so as to have complete liberty to dedicate oneself to God and works of charity. St Paul advises celibacy to the unmarried and to widows who are capable of it, on condition that this is 'God's gift' to them.
(2) Marriage is a good and honorable thing. Married people have mutual and exclusive rights and duties. St Paul generally advises against abstention from cohabitation for motives of perfection, though it may be practiced prudently with a purpose but only ‘by agreement and for a season [reason?].’
However married life, as in general every other aspect of the present, ephemeral life, must be considered in the light of eternal values.
(3) Marriage is indissoluble until the death of one of the partners, and this is a command of the Lord, that is a 'word' spoken by Jesus himself and recorded as such in the Gospels. Therefore if separation occurs it does not give the right to contract a new marriage.
(4) But there is a special case on which Jesus made no pronouncement (I have no command of the Lord but I give my opinion), that of a marriage contracted in paganism after which one of the partners becomes a Christian. In that case St Paul advises them not to part: such a marriage becomes hallowed by the Christian profession of one of the partners and prepares the way for the conversion of the other. But if the pagan partner no longer wishes to cohabit, St Paul declares that the Christian partner is no longer bound by the marriage contracted before his conversion. This abrogation of indissolubility is called the 'Pauline privilege' (i.e. a doctrine authoritatively taught by St Paul) and was always interpreted in the sense that the Christian partner in such a case is free to contract a new marriage. This rule is still observed in missionary territory.
75 Zeal and unselfishness in St Paul's apostolate
1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
3 This is my defense to
those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right
to our food and drink? 5 Do we not have the right
to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brethren of the
Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas
and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier
at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its
fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
8 Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law say the same? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the ploughman should plough in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of a share in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? 12 If others share this rightful claim upon you, do not we still more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have any one deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the, law I became as one under the law---though not being myself under the law-that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law-not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ-that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
| 24 Do you not know that
in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize?
So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every
athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable
wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Well, I do not run aimlessly,
I do not box as one beating the air; 27 but I pommel my body
and subdue it lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
This digression shows a very attractive aspect of St Paul's personality: a sort of pride making him desire to be self-supporting, earning his own living by manual labor; he was a military tent-maker using goats wool or sackcloth. This was a craft for which his country Cilicia was renowned. He would not let himself be kept by his spiritual children, as would have been his right, and as was the right, confirmed by him, of all preachers of the Gospel, so that they might be free for their spiritual work. St Paul renounced this right, seeing in this attitude a way of facilitating the credibility of his preaching: 'To the weak I became weak that I might win the weak'.
This digression was intended to teach, by his own example, that in certain cases, in order not to give scandal or make difficulties for the brethren, the Christian must know how to live a stricter life, e.g., refuse meats offered to idols. Christians, who are strong, i.e. of enlightened faith, will eat them without scruples, but the 'weak' will regard them as contaminated (see in No. 43 the rule included in the Jerusalem decision). The explanation of this will be found in No 76 that follows.
76 You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of devils
1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
| 6 Now these things are
warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters
as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink
and rose up to dance." 8 We must not indulge
in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single
day. 9 We must not put the
Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor grumble, as some
of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened
to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon
whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let any one
who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken
you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be
tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the
way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved,
shun the worship of idols. 15 I speak as to sensible
men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which
we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread
which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one
bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
18 Consider the practice
of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19 What do I imply then?
That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what
pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to
be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the
cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of
the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the
Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
In the markets in pagan cities like Corinth meat sacrificed to idols was for sale. Were the Christians allowed to eat it or not? This was the question raised by the Corinthians.
replies that the idol is nothing and therefore the meat sacrificed has nothing
evil about it. Anyone who knows this can eat of it freely, in private. If
however he finds himself in the company of someone who thinks such meat to
be forbidden, he should be very careful not to scandalize him and not to persuade
him to do what he believes to be wrong. This respect for another's conscience
is required by charity that forces one to forego even a right, if that would
cause spiritual harm to a brother (see above No. 75).
But there was another case to be judged very differently; some allowed themselves actually to share in the sacred feasts that followed pagan sacrifices. St Paul condemns such license as idolatry and so as to dissuade the Corinthian Christians puts forward two arguments:
(1) The example of the Hebrews escaping from Egypt: they had been surrounded by miraculous events which were the 'type', i.e. the prophetic image, of the Christian sacraments, yet because of their arrogance and idolatry they perished in great numbers in the desert. It is not therefore enough to have been baptized and to eat the spiritual food of the Eucharist; it is also necessary to refrain from the vices of the pagans.
(2) The Eucharistic feast and idolatrous feasts are absolutely irreconcilable. In this passage, most noteworthy for its teaching on the Eucharist, it is asserted:
(a) That the Eucharist is the sharing in the sacrifice of Christ and has therefore its own sacrificial value; (b) sharing in the Eucharist is entering into communion with the Body and Blood of Christ who therefore is really present in the 'Cup of blessing' and in the 'Bread which we break'; (c) the 'one Bread' which is the Body of Christ makes the 'many' who share it become 'one body'.
77 The celebration of the Eucharist
17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you meet together, it is not the Lord's Supper that you eat. 21For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, 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 humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
| 23 For I received from the Lord
what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was
betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given
thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body which is for you. “Do this
in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also
the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you
eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. 32 But when the Lord judges us, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another 34 if any one is hungry, let him eat at home-lest you come together to be condemned. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
At Corinth, as in the whole Church, the Eucharist was celebrated from the beginning. Then the celebration was in the evening at the end of a fraternal meal. But at Corinth that meal was no longer truly fraternal: the assembly served rather to show up the divisions among them and their disdain for the humblest. Those who acted in such a way showed themselves 'unworthy' of the Eucharist, and while distinguishing it materially from the repast which preceded it, did not 'discern the Body of Christ', i.e. did not take account of the corporate value of the Eucharist as a sign and instrument of the unity of all in charity. To demonstrate this St Paul refers to the words of institution, already well known at Corinth, which repeatedly mention the idea of 'death for others', the generous self-sacrifice of Christ, which ought to be reflected in the generous charity of anyone who shares in the Eucharist.
he puts forward an argument which establishes two sets of identity (a) the
identity of the bread consecrated by Jesus Christ with his Body (and similarly
as regards the Blood); (b) the identity of that bread with this bread (and
similarly as regards the cup). The argument is based on the words 'do
this in remembrance of me' repeated twice. It is as if he says: we
do the same thing that Jesus did: we do not merely repeat the same action;
we bring about the same reality. In consequence this bread and this
cup are that Body and that Blood. Therefore whoever approaches it unworthily
is 'guilty' and 'eats and drinks judgment upon himself. In the context the
unworthiness is that of the man who spurns communal charity in the very act
of approaching the sacrament of charity.
However, the expression, which is based upon faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, has a more general application to any serious opposition to the Christian ideal.
78 Varieties of gifts and unity of the Church
(12, 1, 4 -30)
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
| 14 For the body does not
consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say,
"Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make
it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should
say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not
make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were
an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear,
where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged
the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single
organ, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are
many parts, yet one body. 21 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 On the contrary, the
parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those parts of the
body 24 which we think less
honorable we invest with the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts
are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not
require. But God has so adjusted
the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior part; 25 that there may be no
discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one
another. 26 If one member suffers,
all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, and speakers in various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is called Spirit because he is like the soul of our soul, a power of knowledge and of life which unites us to the Risen Christ (He is the Spirit of Christ), which makes us like him, which makes us think and judge like him, which makes us live and work with him. In the primitive Church this presence of the Holy Spirit sometimes made itself manifest in the 'charisms' or gifts of the Spirit which operated like miraculous signs of the presence of God among the Christians (see Nos. 22 and 30) and furthermore were to serve the spiritual good of the community.
the Corinthian Christians were so prone to discord that the 'charisms' became for them an excuse for
creating schisms. Therefore St Paul compares individual Christians, endowed
with different gifts, to the individual members of the same body, which,
each member having its own function, are all necessary and work together
for the good of all. The Apostle, with authority, regulates the use
of the charisms and so shows that there is in the Church an authority that
is superior to them, though the Church cannot reach its full vitality without
charisms. These still exist and are evident in special vocations, in the
extraordinary deeds of the Saints and in heroic charity. Authority cannot
create charisms, which depend on God's free initiative, but it is its task
to recognize their authenticity and regulate their use with a view to the
common good of the whole Church.
79 Hymn to Love
(12, 31; 13, 1-13)
12 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
13 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I delivered my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
When I was a child,
I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when
I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12
For now we see in a
mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand
fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13
So faith, hope, love
abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The Corinthian Christians were tempted to admire most the more ostentatious charisms, like the gift of tongues by which the charismatic person as though possessed by the Spirit, began suddenly to praise the Lord in some unknown tongue.
St Paul criticizes the childish preferences of the Corinthians. He forbids speaking 'with tongues' in the liturgical assembly, unless there be present one who has the gift of interpreting these exotic expressions of enthusiasm. He teaches that the gift of prophecy is more useful, and finally shows a still more excellent way, that is love. Let these words be pondered by those who, under the pretext of charisms, i.e. of having been given special gifts by God, sin against love by making divisions in the Church!
This marvelous praise of love shows that all the charisms, even prophecy and so called theological science, are in some sense provisional, and will seem childish prattling when we see God. Love, on the other hand, begins down here and 'never ends', continuing without interruption into eternal life.
80 The resurrection of the dead
1 Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, 2 by which you are saved, if you hold it fast-unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you
as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures, 4
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5
and that he appeared
to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6
Then he appeared to
more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive,
though some have fallen asleep. 7
Then he appeared to
James, then to all the apostles. 8
Last of all, as to one
untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9
For I am the least of
the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God, which is with me. 11 Whether then it was they, or I so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also 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.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ - shall all be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For God has put all things in subjection under his feet. But when it says, "All things are put in subjection under him," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him.
When all things are
subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who
put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one.
29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why am I in peril every hour? 31 I protest, brethren, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised,
"Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." 34 Come to your right mind, and sin no more. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
35 But some one will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" 36 You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are celestial bodies and there are 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, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. 43 It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being;" the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual, which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren; flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Lo! I tell you a mystery.
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53
For this perishable
nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.
When the perishable
puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall
come to pass the saying that is written:
"Death is swallowed up in victory."
55 "O death, where is thy victory?
“0 death, where is thy sting?"
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 567But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, by beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
The Corinthians did not deny Christ's resurrection, which was among the fundamental articles of the apostolic preaching, but they had difficulties about the general resurrection of the dead, either because they did not think it necessary, in view of the idea of the immortality of the soul held by the Greeks, or because they did not understand how a body with material needs could last for ever.
St Paul replies in this very important chapter, which completes what, he had already explained to the Thessalonians (see No. 57). Note the fundamental points of the explanation, which is quite clear:
(1) Christ is risen; this is a basic fact of faith for which there are irrefutable witnesses. Many who had seen the risen Jesus were still alive when Paul wrote these words.
(2) But why should he have risen if the resurrection is unnecessary or impossible? He is risen in order that we too may rise. That is the meaning of our salvation: the forgiveness of sins and the total redemption of man in soul and body. There is no substitute for this redemption nor any alternative to the salvation brought by Christ. Without him we should still be in sin and of what use would be an immortality of soul if it did no more than prolong forever our alienation from God? But Christ's redemption is complete; it is victory over death, because death is the consequence and image of sin.
(3) But how can 'flesh and blood' subsist in an eternal life?
This is the other difficulty with which perhaps the Apostle had never before
had occasion to deal. Here is his answer: we shall not rise in the 'same
condition as before, we shall not retain human appetites in the sphere of
glorified realities. There are different sorts of 'flesh', i.e. of bodies. Even our body
exists in two different conditions: before death and after resurrection.
(4) This entrance of the body into a new and different state affects not only the dead, already dissolved into dust, but also those who will still be alive at the moment when Christ comes. In the instant that sees the dead arise, they will feel themselves radically changed, and clothed with the characteristics of immortal bodies.
(5) The risen Christ is the cause and pattern of the resurrection of the elect. Once risen, he became a quickening Spirit, that is to say, able to pour into a Christian a spiritual power which transforms him into a new creature (see Nos. 89 and 93) in the deepest roots of his being. At the moment of the general resurrection that transformation will reach even the body, which will be renewed in the image of the risen Christ. The material creation also will take part in this transformation of totally redeemed man, as St Paul himself teaches when writing to the Romans (see No. 98).
81 The collection for the poor at Jerusalem: conclusion of the Letter
1 Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come. 3 And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.
5 I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may speed me on my journey wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
| 10 When Timothy comes,
see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord,
as I am. 11 So let no one despise
him. Speed him on his way in peace that he may return to me for I am expecting
him with the brethren.
12 As for our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brethren, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.
13 Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
15 Now, brethren, you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; 16 I urge you to be subject to such men and to every fellow worker and Laborer. 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence 18 for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men.
19 The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. 20 All the brethren send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
The 'saints', that is the Christians for whom St Paul collected alms in the Churches he had evangelized, were those of the Church of Jerusalem, made up in great part of very poor people. In fact The Acts speak of the arrival of Paul at Jerusalem with abundant help for the poor (see Nos. 101 and 107). This fraternal aid was a sign of the communion of faith and charity between the communities originating in paganism and the Jewish-Christian community of the Holy City (see No. 100). For Paul's journey to Macedonia and then to Corinth see No. 65.
Apollos (see Introduction to No. 70) had returned from Corinth to Ephesus with St Paul; perhaps he did not share St Paul's optimism about the settlement of the dissensions at Corinth and feared to provoke new disorders if he were to return among those unruly admirers of his.
| Stephanas was a person of high
rank in the community at Corinth. Being one of the first to be baptized (see
No. 70), he was responsible for the
Church in Corinth and with Fortunatus and Achaicus had brought the Apostle
the latest news and the questions to be dealt with. Probably he was
the bearer of this present letter.
Aquila and Prisca (or Priscilla), the married couple who had so generously entertained Paul had returned from Corinth (see No. 51) to Ephesus with him at the end of the second missionary journey and had taken up residence there (see No. 53).
Writing his usual greeting in his own hand St Paul adds an invocation which sums up his whole message: Christ ('the Lord') is everything to us: whoever does not love him cannot be a Christian he will be 'anathema', i.e. excommunicated, excluded from the Communion with the faithful.
'Maran atha' or better 'Marana tha' in Aramaic (the language of Jesus and the Apostles) means ‘Come, Lord'. It had entered into the liturgy and expressed the ardent desire for the second coming of Jesus (see the end of the Apocalypse, No. 180).
EVENTS AFTER THE FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS1) The first Letter to the Corinthians, and Timothy's visit at the same time, produced no good result. Further, the situation was worsened by the arrival at Corinth of certain Christians of Jewish origin who took to themselves the title of apostle and belittled Paul in every way.
2) Probably St Paul made a very short visit to Corinth, which was a sad disappointment to him: he was even publicly insulted by a quarrelsome member of that community.
3) From Ephesus St Paul wrote a Letter 'with many tears' which he entrusted to his disciple, Titus; this must have moved the Corinthians and induced them to see their faults. This Letter has not been preserved for us.
4) The riot of the silversmiths of Ephesus (see No. 64) caused St Paul to anticipate his departure with the result that he did not find at Troas Titus, who ought to have met him there with the news of Corinth. Not being able to put up with this worrying uncertainty he crossed to Macedonia.
5) In Macedonia, probably at Philippi, he succeeded in meeting Titus who brought him quite good news. But the community at Corinth was still much disturbed. So, before returning there in person, St Paul wrote another Letter to prepare for his arrival and had it delivered by Titus again. This is our second Letter to the Corinthians written about the year 57.
|The second Letter to the Corinthians
is divided into three parts.
In the first Paul defends himself against certain accusations brought against him by the Corinthians and describes the tragic and paradoxical aspects of the life of an apostle (Chapters 1 - 7).
In the second he speaks again of the method of organizing the collection for the poor in Jerusalem (see No. 81; chapters 8 and 9); in the third he attacks his detractors, sets out the facts which give him the prestige and authority of an apostle, and announces his early visit to Corinth.
The letter served its purpose, as is shown by Paul's peaceful stay at Corinth for three months towards the end of the third journey (see No. 65).
82 The Apostle's tribulations and hopes
(4, 5-18; 5, 1-10)
4, 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For it is the God who said "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believe, and so we speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for 'your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.
17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison 18 because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
5, 1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
| 6 So we are always of
good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from
the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith,
not by sight. 8 We are of good courage,
and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at
home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear
before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or
evil, according to what he has done in the body.
The second Letter to the Corinthians written towards the end of the year 69 is very rich in personal touches, which give us a glimpse of St Paul's mind. He expresses very frankly to these turbulent Christians of his, poisoned as they are by the calumnies of certain intriguers against him, his most intimate feelings, his sufferings, anxiety and hopes. The passage here quoted is very important also for the doctrine of individual eschatology', that is, of the state of the soul after death but before the general resurrection.
St Paul has experienced the progressive breaking up of the body, caused more by the labors of the apostolate and by persecutions than by advancing years. He admits that the deep desire of his whole being would not be to be 'unclothed' of his mortal body, but to be 'further clothed' by the transformed and immortal body without passing through death, and this will happen at the instant of the Lord's coming (see No. 80). The body is thus compared to a garment and also to a tent to dwell in. However, the prospect of death does not frighten him. Indeed, from a certain point of view he would rather die than remain too long in exile far from his final meeting with the Lord. He asserts that dying ('being away from the body') he will go to live with the Lord. It is thus not necessary to wait till the moment of the resurrection to be with the risen Jesus; death changes the relationship with the mortal body but it does not change the relationship with Christ, except to make it more evident. He was to express the same idea when he wrote to the Philippians (see No. 117).
83 Paul defends his authority as an Apostle
1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.
3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. 5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superlative apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
7 Did I commit a sin in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel without cost to you? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in want, I did not burden any one, for my needs were supplied by the brethren who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish; but even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 (What I am saying I say not with the Lord's authority but as a fool, in this boastful confidence; 18 since many boast of worldly things, I too will boast.) 19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!
At Corinth there had arrived certain Christians of Jewish origin who wrongly called themselves 'apostles' and belittled St Paul, saying that he was not a true apostle and had no authority.
|Among other things they used the argument
that St Paul did not claim maintenance from the Christians as did 'true'
apostles. St Paul felt obliged to defend himself against this calumny.
His 'jealousy' is really a fear that these false apostles would alienate
the Corinthians not only from love and esteem for him but also from the true
Gospel. And the Corinthians, fickle and unruly as they were, would
be capable even of this.
Note the irony and paradox: the Corinthians reproach Paul with not having made himself chargeable to them and yet run after those false prophets who exploit and cheat them.
84 Paul gives his reasons for boasting
(11, 21-33; 12, 1-10)
11, 21 But whatever any one dares to boast of - I am speaking as a fool - I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one - I am talking like a madman - with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.24 Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I do not lie. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me,33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands.
12, 1 I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
|3 And I know that this
man was caught up into Paradise-whether in the body or out of the body I
do not know, God knows 4 and he heard things
that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man
I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.
6 Though if I wish to
boast, I shall not be a fool, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I refrain
from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears
from me. 7 And to keep me from
being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in
the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too
elated. 8 Three times I besought
the Lord about this, that it should leave me; 9 but he said to me, "My
grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I
will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ
may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ,
then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and
calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
St Paul knows very well that boasting is madness, foolishness. But he is obliged by the Corinthians to boast because that is the only argument they understand. They believe Paul's detractors, though they have so many reasons for respecting the apostle. So Paul must enumerate all the reasons that give him authority, his credentials as it were. So we have this wonderful page of autobiography.
Note: 'Forty lashes less one' refers to the Jewish custom of inflicting the punishment of flogging; since the law of Moses forbade giving more than forty lashes, for fear of breaking it they gave thirty-nine only. The incident at Damascus took place a little after the conversion (see No. 25). Aretas IV, king of the Nabatean Arabs, had ruled Damascus for some time. It was a great humiliation for Paul to have to flee in that way.
The 'thorn in the flesh was not a temptation on the moral plane but a physical disability, perhaps a recurring illness which troubled the apostle, perhaps a very painful physiological reaction to those mystical experiences (raptures, visions) to which Paul had referred a little earlier.
From St Paul's Letter to the GalatiansGalatia properly so-called was the district inhabited by the Galatians, who were a group of Gauls who in the fourth century B.C. invaded Asia Minor and settled at Ancyra (today Ankara) and in the surrounding mountains. But Galatia was also the name of the Roman province which included the regions further south called Pisidia and Lycaonia where St Paul had founded churches during the first missionary journey (see Nos. 38, 39 and 40). Probably we are here concerned not with those churches but with the Galatians property so-called. St Paul had stayed among them because of an illness during the second journey; they were a simple and extremely friendly race who received the Gospel gladly.
St Paul must soon have left them, but he saw them again when he revisited them during the third journey (see No. 61). Some time afterwards these Galatians were however visited by some Jewish-Christians of the kind who taught 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses., you cannot be saved'. This question had already been decided but the Galatians knew nothing of it and believed the new preachers, or at least were much perturbed by this doctrine, which was new to them.
St Paul heard of these matters during his three months' stay at Corinth towards the end of the third journey (see No. 65). He wrote this Letter in a vigorous and emotional style.
The almost exclusive subject of the Letter is justification by means of faith in Christ without recourse to the practices of the Mosaic Law. In certain ways it is the preface to the basic subject of the letter to the Romans, which he was to write a little later. This was in the winter of the year 57-58.