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9:9 You shall not muzzle an ox: A reference to Deut 25:4. • As Deuteronomy grants oxen the right to eat some of the grain that is processed by their work, so Christian laborers can rightly expect material support from the churches they tend to (1 Tim 5:18). This is one of many examples where Paul draws spiritual significance out of the OT that goes beyond the literal and historical meaning of the passage and applies it to a new situation in the Church (1 Cor 10:1-6; Gal 4:22-25; CCC 117). Back to text.

9:13 temple service: Levitical priests who officiated in the Jerusalem Temple received portions of meat from various sacrifices, as well as 10 percent of the Israelites' annual produce (Num 18:8-32; Deut 18:1-5). The analogy implies that ministers of the gospel also exercise a priestly ministry that entitles them to tangible assistance from the People of God (CCC 2122). See note on 1 Cor 4:15Back to text.

9:14 the Lord commanded: Probably a reference to the saying in Lk 10:7, which Paul quotes verbatim in 1 Tim 5:18. See note on Lk 10:7Back to text.

9:16 Woe to me: Paul's ministry is not volunteer work but a mission he received directly from Christ (Acts 9:15-16; Gal 1:1). The responsibility on his shoulders is so great that a frightening prospect of judgment awaits him if he abandons his assignment. Back to text.

9:20 I became as a Jew: Paul continued to maintain certain Jewish traditions after becoming a Christian (Acts 16:3; 21:1726). Strictly speaking, this was unnecessary; yet Paul wanted to convert his kinsmen by removing whatever might turn them away from the gospel (1 Cor 10:32). Ethnically, Paul was an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin (Rom 11:1; Phil 3:5). Back to text.

9:22 all things to all men: Paul adapts himself to the needs and sensitivities of others. Without diluting the gospel message, he willingly sacrifices certain apostolic privileges that might hamper the effectiveness of his ministry to the world (9:20-21; CCC 24). His personal example should inspire the strong Corinthians to accommodate themselves to the weak (8:9-13). Back to text.

9:24-27 Paul compares the spiritual life to athletic competition. Just as training the body is a necessary part of the quest for excellence, so believers are challenged to exert great effort in the battle against selfishness through the rigorous discipline of their bodies. This is all the more necessary since the stakes of the Christian life are far higher than any sporting event: to be disqualified (9:27) from this race is to forfeit the award of heaven itself (2 Tim 4:6-8). Back to text.

9:25 a perishable wreath: Corinth hosted the popular Isthmian Games every other year, where winning athletes were crowned with wreaths made of pine or a species of wild celery called selinon. Paul stresses the contrast between this perishable award of dried vegetation and the imperishable crown of eternal life (1 Pet 5:4; Rev 2:10). Back to text.

10:1-13 Paul urges the Corinthians to learn from the mistakes of Israel. Although the Israelites received blessings comparable to Baptism (Red Sea) and the Eucharist (manna and water), they perished for experimenting with idolatry. With this in mind, the Corinthians, who have received superior blessings in the sacraments, must guard against presumption and over-confidence in the face of anything connected with idolatry (e.g., idol foods, 8:10). Paul intensifies this warning by stressing how all the Israelites were delivered from bondage (10:1-4) and yet most of them were destroyed in God's wrath for serving other gods (10:5). Back to text.

10:1 under the cloud: A canopy of divine protection spread over Israel (Ps 105:39). Scripture associates the firecloud of the Exodus journey with the Holy Spirit (Is 63:10-14; CCC 697). Back to text.

10:2 baptized into Moses: The solidarity of Israel with Moses passing through the Red Sea (Ex 14:21-31) prefigures our union with Christ when we pass through the waters of Baptism (Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27). The deliverance of Israel from slavery is a type of the Church's deliverance from bondage in sin (Rom 6:17-18). Back to text.

10:3 supernatural food: The manna that rained down upon Israel as bread from heaven (Ex 16:4-31). It prefigures the living bread of the Eucharist, which nourishes us in the wilderness of this life (1 Cor 10:16; Jn 6:31-35). Back to text.

10:4 supernatural Rock: The rock of Horeb that gushed forth drinking water for Israel by a miracle of Moses (Ex 17:6). Jewish tradition believed that the rock followed Israel as a constant source of refreshment on the march through the desert. It is ultimately a type of Christ, who pours out the living waters of the Spirit in Baptism (1 Cor 12:13; Jn 4:14) and the sacramental gift of himself in the Eucharist (1 Cor 10:16; Jn 6:53). Back to text.

10:5 most . . . were overthrown: Joshua and Caleb were the only two adults of the generation that came up out of Egypt to enter the Promised Land (Num 14:20-35). • Paul is alluding to the great massacre of Israelites who rebelled against Yahweh in the wilderness as described in the Greek version of Num 14:16. Back to text.

10:6 warnings: Or, "types". The dangers and judgments that Israel experienced between the Red Sea and the Promised Land show us that the Christian life is a probationary period of testing that stretches between our Baptism and our final salvation. Unless we fight the temptations that badger us along the way, we will fail to reach our heavenly homeland, just as many of the Exodus generation perished without crossing over into Canaan. The premise behind this Exodus typology is that the Church relives the experiences of Israel at a spiritual level (CCC 128-30, 1094). See word study: Type at Rom 5. Back to text.

10:7-10 Paul draws attention to several transgressions of Israel in connection with food and drink. • In 10:7 Paul recalls how Israel worshiped the golden calf by sitting down to eat and drink in the presence of the idol and by getting up to dance in sexual revelry (Ex 32:6). In 1 Cor 10:8 Paul alludes to a similar sin at Beth Peor, where Yahweh destroyed twenty-three thousand Israelites for involvement in sexual immorality that led to eating food sacrificed to the idols of the Moabites (Num 25:1-9). In 1 Cor 10:9 Paul warns the Corinthians not to put the Lord to the test, which is a reminder from Deut 6:16 of how Israel complained of thirst and challenged Yahweh to provide water to drink (Ex 17:1-7). In 1 Cor 10:9 Paul recalls how the Israelites were bitten with serpents because they despised the manna that God had given them to eat (Num 21:4-6). These food-related episodes are pulled together to caution the "strong" Corinthians that eucharistic communion with Christ is incompatible with eating food sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 10:1422; CCC 2119). Back to text.

10:9 put the Lord to the test: Some reliable Greek manuscripts read "Christ" instead of "Lord". Back to text.

10:10 the Destroyer: The angel(s) who inflicts the wrath of God upon sinners (Ex 12:23; Ps 78:49). Back to text.

10:11 for our instruction: The OT remains a source of spiritual teaching and encouragement even for NT believers (Rom 15:4). This is because both Testaments bear witness to a unified plan of salvation that began with creation, advanced through the history of Israel, and climaxed with the redeeming mission of the Messiah. end of the ages: All previous stages of covenant history have given way to the messianic age of the New Covenant (Heb 1:1-2). This was referred to in the OT as the "latter days" (Num 24:14; Is 2:2; Dan 2:28; Hos 3:5). Back to text.

10:13 God is faithful: A reminder that even the most severe temptations are bearable when we turn to God for help and look for the escape route that he promises to provide for us (Mt 6:13). Paul is leaving no room for flimsy excuses, as though sin were sometimes unavoidable (CCC 2848-49). Back to text.

10:14 worship of idols: Idolatry is the real danger facing the Corinthians who eat idol food (8:10). Not only will their behavior lead the "weak" to become again ensnared in pagan worship (8:7), but even the "strong" are setting themselves up for a fall (10:12; CCC 2112-14). See essay: Shun Immorality, Shun Idolatry at 1 Cor 6. Back to text.

10:16 cup of blessing: The traditional name for the third ritual cup of wine consumed at the Jewish Passover meal. It is this cup that Jesus blessed and consecrated at the Passover of the Last Supper and made the eucharistic cup of the New Covenant (11:25; CCC 1334, 1340). participation: Eucharistic Communion unites believers with Christ and with one another. These two blessings are related inasmuch as the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood is what continues to mold us into the ecclesial Body of Christ, the Church (10:17). Back to text.

10:20 offer to demons: A warning that unseen powers lurk behind what appear to be lifeless idols. The Corinthians who insist on eating idol food in pagan temples (8:10) are thus in danger of forging an unholy partnership with fallen spirits. •Paul's thinking is shaped by OT passages that link idol worship with service to demons (Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37; Bar 4:7). Back to text.

10:21 table of the Lord: The altar of the eucharistic liturgy (Heb 13:10). • The prophets of Israel referred to the bronze altar of sacrifice as the Lord's "table" (Ezek 44:16; Mal 1:7, 12). Paul uses this same language to show that the eucharistic offering of the Church is a holy sacrifice analogous to the Temple offerings of the Mosaic age. He has already hinted at the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist in 1 Cor 10:18 when he compared it to the eaten portions of the Levitical peace offerings(Lev 7:11-36) (CCC 1383). Back to text.

10:22 Shall we provoke the Lord: Yahweh is a jealous God who forbids idol worship (Ex 20:4-6). • Paul's question serves as a warning because it recalls how the Israelites provoked the Lord to anger by their idolatry in the wilderness (Deut 32:16, 21). Back to text.

10:23 All things are lawful: A slogan used by the Corinthians to assert their freedom to eat idol food. Paul qualifies it immediately, censuring the kind of unrestrained freedom that looks to ourselves before others (10:24, 33; Phil 2:4). Back to text.

10:25-30 Paul addresses the issue of idol meat sold in the open market after being sacrificed in a pagan temple. Objectively, his readers are free to eat and need not worry about the past history of market food (10:25) or of meals served in private homes (10:27). In these contexts, the food is safely disconnected from the context of conscious idolatry. However, his readers should abstain from eating when the food's idolatrous origin is pointed out by another; otherwise, the informant may be scandalized and led to think that Christians have a casual attitude toward idolatry. Back to text.

10:26 the earth is the Lord's: A reference to Ps 24:1. • Paul cites Ps 24 to extol the sovereignty of Christ as the Lord of creation (1 Cor 8:6; 15:27). His divine ownership of all things implies that no food, in and of itself, should be rejected or despised (1 Tim 4:3-4). Later rabbis reasoned from this psalm that a mealtime blessing should be said before eating. Back to text.

10:32 Give no offense: The overarching lesson of chaps. 810. Throughout his discussion, Paul subordinates Christian liberty to Christian love, emphasizing that genuine charity "builds up" (8:1) and "does not insist on its own way" (13:5). Back to text.

11:1 Be imitators of me: Technically, this verse rounds off the preceding discussion of chaps. 8-10 and is not an introduction to the following discussion of chaps. 11-14. Note that Paul's original letter had no chapter and verse divisions. See note on 1 Cor 9:1-27Back to text.

11:2-14:40 The next section of the letter concerns issues of liturgical assembly and abuse. Paul deals with improper attire (11:2-16), selfishness and discrimination (11:17-34), and the disorderly exercise of spiritual gifts (chaps. 12-14). Back to text.

11:2 the traditions: I.e., the beliefs and practices of Christianity stemming from Christ. By extension it refers to the gospel as it was delivered to the early Church in person or in writing by the inspired apostles (15:3; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6). The divine origin of Christian tradition gives it an authority not shared by merely human tradition, which is often unreliable and can be in conflict with revealed truth (Mk 7:3-8; Col 2:8; CCC 81-83). Back to text.

11:3-16 The precise problem that Paul addresses in these verses is unclear. Scholars are divided over the central issue, i.e., whether it concerns gender differences in general or marital relationships in particular. This is in part because the same Greek terms that mean "man" and "woman" can also mean "husband" and "wife". On balance, Paul is more likely speaking about gender issues in general within the context of public worship. It seems that certain Corinthians have challenged the distinction between the sexes by violating gender-appropriate dress codes in the liturgy. Paul's guidelines imply that the order of redemption, where men and women are equal recipients of grace (Gal 3:28), does not obliterate the order of creation, where gender differences are written into nature (Gen 1:27). Back to text.

11:3 the head: The Greek term can be used metaphorically to mean "leader" or "source". It is difficult to determine which is intended here; perhaps Paul is working with both ideas. See word study: Head at Eph 5. Back to text.

11:6 veil herself: Many believe the veil symbolizes the subordinate status of women that should be reflected in a liturgical setting (14:34). • The Catholic Church teaches that Paul's counsel on the veiling of women was inspired by the customs of the day. Because this was a matter of discipline, not doctrine, the Pauline directives on covering and uncovering the head are subject to change. They are no longer binding on men and women today (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Inter insigniores [1976], 4). Back to text.

11:7-9 Allusions to the creation stories of Genesis. • Paul reads Gen 1:26-27, where man and woman are made in the image of God, through the lens of Gen 2:21-23, where God fashioned Eve as a helper for Adam by creating her from the physical substance of Adam. The point is that man has a natural precedence over woman in the created order established by God. Back to text.

11:10 because of the angels: A warning that gender confusion and improper attire at worship will offend the heavenly hosts. The underlying idea is that (1) angels are ministers of the natural order, and (2) angels are present in the sacramental worship of the Church. Back to text.

11:14 nature itself: The expression can mean "natural law" or "common custom". Paul intends the latter rather than the former. Back to text.

11:17-34 Paul confronts liturgical abuse of the Lord's Supper. The Corinthians must have gathered to eat a common meal before celebrating the Eucharist. Although this preliminary meal was meant to promote fellowship, it became a source of tension and disunity between rich and poor Christians that extended into the liturgy. Several factors put this crisis in context. (1) Since early Christian gatherings took place, not in church buildings, but in available homes (16:19), seating arrangements could reinforce the distinctions of social rank among believers, with the wealthy eating together and the poor excluded from their company. (2) The meal itself could accentuate division if the rich brought healthy portions of food for themselves, leaving whatever was left for the poor or not sharing with them at all (11:21). (3) Wealthy persons would have the leisure to arrive early and enjoy their food, while laborers and slaves would have to fulfill their duties before attending (11:33-34). Whatever the precise circumstances, acts of discrimination in Corinth have contradicted the very purpose of these gatherings (10:17). Back to text.

11:17 I do not commend you: Paul addresses a serious violation of Christian tradition (11:2). Back to text.

11:18 when you assemble: The early Christians gathered together at least once a week, in particular on Sunday, the Lord's day (16:2; Acts 20:7; Rev 1:10; CCC 1343, 2174-76). Back to text.

11:19 factions: Some suggest the divisions between poor and prosperous Christians in Corinth may coincide with the factions mentioned in 1:11-13, but this is uncertain. Back to text.

11:20 not the Lord's supper: Disunity among the Corinthians contradicts the very purpose of the Eucharist to unify believers with Christ and one other (10:17). Back to text.

11:23 I received from the Lord: Paul learned of the Last Supper through the Church's liturgical tradition stretching back to Jesus and the first apostles. His account agrees in substance with the narratives of the Gospels, especially Luke's version (Lk 22:19-20). Paul is confident that divine revelation is safely passed on through the tradition of the Church. he was betrayed: By Judas Iscariot (Mk 14:43-46; Jn 13:26-30). Back to text.

11:24-25 Through the words of Consecration, Jesus transformed the ordinary bread and wine of the Jewish Passover meal into the Sacrament of his Body and Blood (Jn 6:53-58). See notes on 1 Cor 10:16 and Mt 26:26-29. Back to text.

11:24 Do this in remembrance: As the original Passover memorialized Israel's deliverance from Egypt through Moses (Ex 12:14), so the new Passover of the Eucharist commemorates the Church's deliverance from sin through Jesus (5:7; CCC 1340). Christ's mandate to continue this liturgical action is linked with his institution of the New Covenant priesthood (CCC 1337, 1341). See note on Lk 22:19 and word study: Remembrance at Lk 22. Back to text.

11:26 you proclaim the Lord's death: The separate Consecration of bread and wine is a visible representation of Christ's death, recalling how his blood was separated from his body on the Cross. until he comes: The liturgy awaits its fulfillment at the coming of Christ in glory. Anticipating his visible return as Judge (4:5), Christ makes an invisible return as Judge in the eucharistic meal itself (CCC 1402-05). This is why Paul stresses that unworthy reception of Communion brings judgment upon the perpetrators (1 Cor 11:29-32). In his mind, the Eucharist is a sacrament, not of Christ's absence, but of his real and holy presence. Back to text.

11:27 the bread . . . the cup: The Corinthians apparently received the Eucharist under both species, although this was not strictly necessary. • The Church holds that Christ is entirely present under each form of the Sacrament, so that Communion under one species is communion with the whole Christ in his glorified Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity (CCC 1390). unworthy manner: Receiving Eucharistic Communion can be an act of sacrilege and self-condemnation if done in a state of serious (mortal) sin. For Paul, to sin against the body and blood in this way is to be liable for the Lord's violent death. The offenders in Corinth incurred this guilt by overeating, drunkenness, and discrimination against the poor. Such carelessness before the Sacrament triggered divine judgments of sickness and even death (11:30). Back to text.

11:28 examine himself: Self-examination should always precede Communion. The purpose is to avoid an unworthy reception of the Sacrament. • Paul's teaching implies a close connection between the Eucharist and Reconciliation (Jn 20:23; CCC 1385). Back to text.

11:29 discerning the body: Probably a wordplay on the term "body", which refers to the eucharistic Body of Christ and to the ecclesial Body of Christ made up of believers united to him (10:16-17; 12:12). Recognizing Jesus in the Sacrament is thus coupled with recognizing him in our spiritual brothers and sisters (Mt 25:34-40). Back to text.

11:32 chastened: Divine discipline is a call to repentance and spiritual growth. Its loving purpose is to avert our final condemnation with the sinners of the world (Heb 12:7-11). Back to text.

11:34 let him eat at home: Implies that the preliminary fellowship meal is not an essential part of the liturgy (11:22). Difficulties like those experienced in Corinth led the early Church eventually to separate eucharistic worship from the context of common meals. I will give directions: Paul's written instructions are merely a preface to the oral instructions he hopes to give when he arrives (4:19-21). Back to text.

12:1-14:40 Paul explains the purpose of spiritual gifts (chap. 12) and theological virtues (chap. 13) in order to regulate charismatic worship (chap. 14). Apparently some in Corinth prized more spectacular gifts like "tongues" to the neglect of other gifts and even liturgical order. To correct their thinking, Paul arranges a hierarchy of spiritual gifts, placing love at the top (13:13), ecclesial ministries in the middle (12:28), and tongues at the bottom (12:28). Back to text.

12:1 Now concerning: Paul responds to a question that was put to him in an earlier letter from the Corinthians. See note on 1 Cor 7:1Back to text.

12:2 led astray to mute idols: Many Corinthians were I formerly pagans and idolaters (8:7). • Paul's perspective on idols is that of the OT—they are lifeless and therefore speechless (Ps 135:15-18; Hab 2:18-19; CCC 2112). Back to text.

12:3 Jesus be cursed! The origin of this alarming declaration is uncertain. Among various possibilities, it may be (1) an ecstatic utterance spoken by false charismatics, (2) a heretical slogan used by some to drive a wedge between the historical Jesus and the risen Christ of faith, or (3) the slanderous words of Jewish opponents who attacked the gospel. Jesus is Lord: A distinctly Christian confession (Rom 10:9; Phil 2:11). The Spirit empowers us to say it with conviction and live it out through conversion (CCC 449, 683). The title "Lord" (Gk. Kyrios) resonates against the background of Jewish and Gentile traditions: (1) it is used repeatedly in the Greek OT to translate the divine name "Yahweh"; (2) it was used in the Greco-Roman world to address rulers and emperors. Back to text.

12:4-6 The charismatic gifts flow from the Holy Spirit, Christ the Lord, and God the Father. The unity and diversity within the Trinity is the divine model of the unity and diversity of gifts shared by believers (Eph 4:4-7). Back to text.

12:4 gifts: Translates the Greek charismata, which is theologically and linguistically related to the term "grace" (Gk. charis). Charismatic gifts are thus graces given to build up the Church (CCC 799-801, 951). The inventory in 1 Cor 12:8-10 lists extraordinary charisms of instruction and healing. The list in Rom 12:6-8 also includes more ordinary gifts, such as generosity and works of mercy. Back to text.

12:7 the common good: Charisms are given as personal gifts but not merely for private benefit (12:11). They unite us with the Spirit's mission to build up all members of the Church and bring them to salvation (1 Pet 4:10-11). • Catholic teaching distinguishes between sanctifying grace, which imparts the gift of divine sonship, and charismatic or ministerial grace, which equips the saints for service to others (CCC 2003). Back to text.

12:9 faith: Not the gift of saving faith possessed by all Christians (Eph 2:8), but an extraordinary trust in God that encourages others who witness it (1 Cor 13:2; Mk 11:23). Back to text.

12:10 tongues: May be the earthly languages of men (Acts 2:1-6) or the heavenly speech of angels (1 Cor 13:1). The gift of interpretation is the complement of the gift of tongues, enabling unintelligible utterances to be understood by the assembled community (14:9-19). Back to text.

12:13 by one Spirit: That is, by the divine action of the Spirit working in Baptism. one body: This is not simply a metaphor for the Church, with the focus on her organizational unity, but it expresses the metaphysical reality that every believer is truly united with Christ by the Sacraments (10:17; CCC 790). The Spirit is the soul of this mystical body, giving life, growth, and direction to each of its members (CCC 797). Jews or Greeks: Union with Christ makes ethnic and social distinctions irrelevant in the eyes of God (Gal 3:28; CCC 1267). to drink of one Spirit: Baptism renews (Tit 3:5) and refreshes us through the Spirit (Jn 7:37-39), as does the spiritual drink of the Eucharist (1 Cor 10:4). Back to text.

12:14-26 Everyone serves a vital and indispensable function in the Body of Christ. As the constituent parts of a body perform different functions and yet work together in harmony, so every member of Christ's Body is assigned an important task for the good of the whole (CCC 791). Some Corinthians apparently disputed the validity of certain gifts—a presumptuous attitude that called into question God's wise arrangement of the body (1 Cor 12:18) and his free distribution of charisms (12:11). • Allegorically: the eyes of the body serve knowledge and signify the contemplative life of the Church, whereas the hands serve movement and signify the active life of the Church. So, too, the head of the body is the clergy in authority over the Church, while the feet are the laity who follow the lead of their head (St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12, 3). Back to text.

12:21 the head: Paul visualizes the body as the collective person of Christ, with his members compared to anatomical features of the body from top (ears and eyes, 12:16) to bottom (feet, 12:15, 21). The picture changes somewhat in later Pauline letters, where the "head" represents Christ as distinct from his "body", the Church (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18; 2:19). Paul may have developed the illustration over the years, or perhaps he was using the imagery in different ways in different letters. For a summary discussion, see word study: Head at Eph 5. Back to text.

12:26 suffer together . . . rejoice together: Unity among believers rules out indifference toward others and encourages mutual support and compassion among them (Sir 7:34; Rom 12:15). Back to text.

12:28 first apostles: Apostleship is given pride of place among the ministerial gifts. This is because the apostles saw Christ risen from the dead (15:5) and were directly charged by him with spreading the gospel (Mt 28:18-20; Acts 9:1-16). Their mission to lay the initial foundations of the Church in the world is essentially unrepeatable (Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14; CCC 858-60). Their work of teaching and sanctifying the world, however, is carried on by their successors, the bishops. See note on 1 Tim 3:1Back to text.

12:31 desire the higher gifts: Paul prepares readers for the following exposition of God's greatest gifts: the virtues of faith, hope, and love (13:1-13). Back to text.

13:1-13 Chapter 13 is a poetic interlude on "love" that summarizes Paul's moral instructions in the letter (16:14) and stands as the centerpiece of his teaching on spiritual gifts (chaps. 1214). Because some in Corinth esteemed more spectacular charisms like tongues, Paul writes to temper their charismatic enthusiasm by insisting that charity must inspire and direct the exercise of all ministerial gifts (CCC 800). Without love, the other charisms bring no benefit to the Body of Christ and may even cause divisions among its members. Back to text.

13:1 clanging cymbal: Possibly an allusion to ecstatic pagan worship. Speaking in tongues can produce the same meaningless noise if its purpose is thwarted by a failure to love. Back to text.

13:2 I am nothing: Knowledge of saving mysteries and the exercise of extraordinary faith amount to nothing unless coupled with active charity toward others (CCC 1826). • Some believe faith alone is sufficient for salvation; others believe they will be saved by Christ's sacraments alone; others rely on works of mercy alone and think they can sin with impunity. Such people fail to understand that nothing avails without charity (St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6, 2). Back to text.

13:3 deliver my body to be burned: A reference to martyrdom by fire (Dan 3:23; 2 Mac 7:1-6). Even such heroic acts are profitless toward eternal life without a supernatural love for God. Back to text.

13:4-7 Paul personifies love to explain its true nature and greatness. Because love (charity) is a virtue that is supernatural and God-given, it cannot be reduced to a feeling or emotion that comes and goes over time. It is foremost the love of God and neighbor that the Spirit pours into our hearts (Rom 5:5; CCC 735). It bears burdens, patiently suffers injuries, restrains pride, and is not self-assertive or oversensitive. Vices contrary to love were displayed by those Corinthians who were jealous (1 Cor 3:3), boastful (4:7), or arrogant (4:18). Back to text.

13:8 will pass away: The charismatic gifts will expire when "the perfect comes" (13:10), that is, when the Lord comes again in glory to reveal himself to the Church "face to face" (13:12). Interpretations that link the cessation of charismatic grace with the compilation of the NT books have absolutely no footing in the text. Back to text.

13:12 in a mirror dimly: Ancient Corinth manufactured mirrors of polished bronze. Although known for their excellent quality, their reflected images would nonetheless remain hazy and indistinct. Our present perception of God is similarly imperfect (CCC 163-64, 314). then face to face: Life in heaven will consist of a clear and direct vision of God "as he is" (1 Jn 3:2; CCC 1023). Back to text.

13:13 faith, hope, love abide: The translation is misleading because it fails to render the Greek adverb nuni ("now"). Paul is not saying that all three virtues are eternal, but instead he ties them to the present age. Faith and hope will pass away when we see the Lord in heaven and possess the eternal happiness we yearned for in this life. But love "never ends" (13:8). Rather than passing away, love reaches perfection in the everlasting embrace of the Trinity that awaits the saints beyond this life. A close connection between these virtues is also noted in Rom 5:1-5, Gal 5:5-6, and 1 Thess 1:3. • Catholic tradition calls faith, hope, and love "theological virtues" because they come from God (Gk. Theos) and lead us back to God (CCC 1812-29). the greatest . . . love: The preeminence of love follows from its permanence, i.e., it outshines other divine gifts precisely because it outlasts them (13:8). Back to text.

14:1-40 Paul gives pastoral direction on spiritual gifts, building upon the theological and ethical foundations laid in chaps. 12-13. He seeks to regulate the Corinthians' undisciplined exercise of charismatic gifts by stressing the need to build up the congregation (14:3-5, 12, 26). As a rule, gifts exercised in public worship must be publicly beneficial; otherwise disorder and confusion will result (14:33, 40). • Vatican II reaffirmed the enduring validity of charismatic gifts. The Council described their function as one of renewing and building up the Church in the Spirit. Following Paul, it also warned that extraordinary charisms should not be rashly desired (Lumen Gentium 12). Back to text.

14:1 prophesy: The ability to prophesy is the preferred charismatic gift. It can include the power to predict future events (Acts 11:27-28; 21:10-11) but is primarily the ability to encourage the assembled Church in a powerful way (1 Cor 14:3; Acts 15:32). Prophets can also make the gospel compelling to outside observers (1 Cor 14:24-25). Paul promotes this gift over tongues because prophets can speak to others with clear and understandable words. Back to text.

14:2 speaks in a tongue: Here viewed as human languages that are unknown and thus "foreign" to the local Church (14:10-11). Interpreting them amounts to translating them (14:5; Acts 2:1-11). Back to text.

14:7-8 Paul compares tongues to musical instruments (14:7) and a military trumpet (14:8). Just as music follows an ordered sequence of notes, and a battle call has a distinctive sound, so the language of tongues has an intelligible meaning in itself. Left untranslated, however, tongues remain incoherent to the congregation, like a string of meaningless noises. Back to text.

14:10 many different languages: Diversity among human languages can be traced back to the rebellion at the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9). The commercial city of Corinth would be exposed to many foreign dialects, even though its principal language was Greek. Back to text.

14:11 foreigner: The term is elsewhere translated "barbarian" (Rom 1:14; Col 3:11). Here it refers to someone whose native language is unknown to Greek-speaking Christians. Back to text.

14:14 my mind is unfruitful: I.e., uninvolved in the heavenly speech. An uninterpreted tongue makes conscious participation in the prayer impossible both for the individual speaking and for the congregation listening. Even so, the gift engages the spirit of the worshiper, enabling him to utter "mysteries in the Spirit" (14:2). Back to text.

14:16 "Amen": A Hebrew expression meaning "So be it!" or "So it is!". It is a traditional response to liturgical prayers (Rev 5:14). See word study: Amen at 2 Cor 1. Back to text.

14:20 in thinking be mature: The Corinthians' preoccupation with tongues was a sign of their immaturity. They should rather seek for themselves the moral innocence of children and the mature judgment of adults (3:1; Eph 4:11-14). Back to text.

14:21 the law: Refers to the entire OT, not just the Pentateuch (Jn 10:34; 15:25). • Paul paraphrases Is 28:11-12, where the scoffers of Israel mock Isaiah by comparing his prophecies to the unintelligible babble of infants. Isaiah turns their mockery into a warning by saying that Yahweh will rouse foreign armies (Assyria), who speak an alien language, to seek and destroy them (Deut 28:49). This leads Paul to see "tongues" as a "sign" of the judgment that will fall upon sinners (1 Cor 14:22). Back to text.

14:22 unbelievers: Since this can also be translated "unfaithful", it is uncertain whether Paul is thinking of unbaptized pagans or unfaithful Christians or both. prophecy is not for unbelievers: I.e., not primarily for unbelievers or the unfaithful. It is foremost a gift to edify the assembled church, although it can benefit visitors and newcomers as well (14:24-25). Back to text.

14:25 God is really among you: Charismatic prophecy can lead to the conversion of unbelievers who attend a Christian liturgy. • Paul's language recalls OT passages where the Gentiles come to recognize Yahweh as the one true God present among his messianic people (Is 45:14; Zech 8:22-23). Back to text.

14:27-28 Paul gives three pastoral guidelines for speaking in tongues: (1) only a few should exercise the gift at each assembly; (2) they should speak in sequence, not simultaneously; (3) the utterances should be interpreted. Paul assumes that the gift of tongues lies within the control of the recipient, who can keep silent when appropriate. Should the spontaneity of charismatic gifts be allowed to override the structures of the liturgy, they will cause disorder and distraction (14:39-40). Back to text.

14:29 weigh what is said: Prophecies must be measured against apostolic teaching to ensure their consistency with the whole deposit of faith (Rom 12:6). Back to text.

14:34-35 Paul enjoins silence upon Christian women in public worship. This is not an absolute restriction, since women can lawfully pray and prophesy in the liturgical assembly (11:5) and are encouraged to teach in other circumstances (Tit 2:3-4). Paul is prohibiting women from instructing the congregation in the official capacity of a pastor or homilist. See note on 1 Tim 2:12Back to text.

14:37 command of the Lord: Paul is giving, not personal advice, but instruction that in some sense comes directly from Christ (7:10). Back to text.

15:1-58 Paul defends the doctrine of the resurrection against attack and misunderstanding (15:12). Working forward from the Resurrection of Christ, he insists that our bodies will be raised immortal (15:20-23) and glorified for life in heaven (15:35-50). This belief is so important that to deny the resurrection is to destroy the essence of the gospel (15:17-19). Back to text.

15:3-5 A symbol or creed of the Christian faith that is founded on apostolic testimony (CCC 186, 638). Should Paul's readers reject any of these basic tenets of the gospel, their faith will prove "vain" (1 Cor 15:1-2). Back to text.

15:3 I delivered . . . I also received: Refers to the transmission of oral and liturgical tradition. A similar formula was used in rabbinical schools for the transfer of Jewish tradition from teacher to student from generation to generation. See note on 1 Cor 11:2Back to text.

15:4 he was buried: This important detail sets the Resurrection of Jesus over against his burial, indicating that his tomb was empty on Easter morning (Jn 20:1-10). The rising of Jesus from the grave is thus proclaimed as a physical and bodily event; it involved much more than the resuscitation of his corpse, but certainly nothing less than this. The Resurrection is a miracle of history that cannot be reduced to a metaphor for new life (CCC 639-40). the Scriptures: Belief in a bodily resurrection can be traced back to the OT (CCC 652). • Several passages affirm that the Lord will raise the dead to live again (Is 26:19; Ezek 37:1-14; Dan 12:2; 2 Mac 7:9). Jesus was the first to benefit from these promises in advance of the messianic people united to him. For biblical background on the third day motif, See note on Lk 24:46Back to text.

15:5 appeared to Cephas: Jesus appeared alive to Peter (Lk 24:34) and the rest of the apostles on Easter Sunday (Jn 20:1923). Paul catalogues a total of six appearances (1 Cor 15:5-8), most of which took place within the 40-day interval between the Resurrection and the Ascension (Acts 1:3; CCC 641-42). No mention is made of Christ's appearances to the holy women (Mk 16:1-8), possibly because a woman could not give admissible legal testimony in Jewish tradition. Back to text.

15:6 more than five hundred: A public appearance mentioned only here in the NT. For Paul, such a large group of eyewitnesses adds to the credibility of the Resurrection, especially since some were still living and could verify the facts. Back to text.

15:7 James: Known as "James the Lord's brother" (Gal 1:19), a kinsman of Jesus (Mt 13:55) and the first appointed bishop of Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13). Only here is it stated in Scripture that Christ appeared to him personally. the apostles: Probably refers to a wider circle of disciples than the "Twelve" (15:5), as is sometimes the case in the NT (Acts 14:14; 2 Cor 8:23). Back to text.

15:8 appeared also to me: Paul both saw the risen Christ and received a missionary mandate from him (Acts 9:1-15). His encounter with the resurrected Jesus in visible glory was unique compared with the other apostles, who saw Jesus alive before his Ascension into heaven (CCC 659). Paul felt undeserving of an apostolic mission in light of his former hostility to the Church (1 Cor 15:9; Eph 3:8; 1 Tim 1:15-16). Back to text.

15:12 no resurrection of the dead?: Such a denial might stem from either a Jewish or a Greek background. (1)The Sadducees held a minority view within Judaism that emphatically denied the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8). (2)Among the Greeks it was commonly held that the body was a prison or tomb that was destined to decay once the soul was liberated from it at death (Acts 17:32). Whatever the influence, Corinthian skepticism concerning the future of the body led to a denial of Christian doctrine and a sharp decline in morality (1 Cor 6:12-20; 15:34; CCC 996). Back to text.

15:13 then Christ has not been raised: Paul exposes the inconsistency of the Corinthians' position: they affirm that Christ is risen (past), yet they deny that Christians will rise again as he did (future). To deny the possibility of the latter is to deny the historicity of the former. Back to text.

15:14 your faith is in vain: The Resurrection of Jesus is a historical foundation so essential to Christianity that, without it, the entire structure of the faith collapses in ruins (CCC 651). Back to text.

15:15 he raised Christ: I.e., God the Father (CCC 648). Technically, the Resurrection is the work of all three Persons of the Trinity—Father (Rom 6:4), Son (Jn 10:17-18), and Spirit (Rom 1:4). Back to text.

15:17 still in your sins: If Jesus did not overcome death, then he could not have destroyed sin, for death is the consequence of sin (Gen 3:17-19). It is precisely Christ's victory over death that demonstrates his triumph over the cause of death (1 Cor 15:56-57). Back to text.

15:20 the first fruits: In the liturgy of ancient Israel the first portion of a crop was offered to God in the Temple as a means of consecrating the whole of the expected harvest (Ex 23:19; Lev 23:10-14). So, too, Christ is not only the first to be raised in glory, but his resurrected humanity is an offering that ensures an entire harvest of believers will be raised as he was (Acts 26:23; Rom 11:15-16). fallen asleep: A euphemism for biological death (15:6; 1 Thess 4:15). Back to text.

15:21-22 Paul compares and contrasts Adam and Christ as the two individuals whose lives have had the greatest impact on the entire human race. Sin had its beginning with Adam, and because of him the human family enters the world estranged from God and destined to die. Salvation comes to us through Christ, whose triumph over sin reverses the damage done by Adam and gives us the hope that even our mortal bodies will be resurrected to new life. This contrast continues in 15:45-49. Back to text.

15:23 at his coming: Only when Christ returns in glory (Acts 1:11) will the bodies of the saints be raised in glory (Phil 3:2021). See word study: Coming at Mt 24. Back to text.

15:24 rule . . . authority . . . power: Demonic spirits hostile to God and the advance of his kingdom (Col 2:15; 1 Pet 3:22). See note on Eph 1:21Back to text.

15:25-27 Paul summarizes the drama of the last days, when Christ will triumph over his enemies and transfer his kingdom over to the Father (CCC 1042-50). He makes use of imagery from Ps 110:1 and Ps 8:6, passages linked by the expression under his feet (1 Cor 15:25, 27). • Psalm 110 portrays the Messiah enthroned at Yahweh's right hand and awaiting the subjection of his enemies. Psalm 8 reflects on the original vocation of man to stand above all of creation as its ruler and steward. Christ assumes both of these roles at his Ascension, from which time his reign continues until all creation bows in homage and his final adversary, death, falls in defeat (CCC 668, 1008). Back to text.

15:25 until: This expression fixes a limit to the conflict between Christ and his enemies, not to his kingship. His rule will be perfected, not terminated, when death is finally destroyed. Back to text.

15:28 everything to every one: Or, "all things in all". In the end, creation and even the incarnate Son will honor the Father as the Lord of all and the absolute Origin of all life. Back to text.

15:29 baptized on their [the deads'] behalf: This passage continues to baffle interpreters, since neither the form nor the meaning of this practice is familiar to us today. Perhaps living believers were receiving baptism for the sake of deceased persons, hoping its benefits would accrue to them in the afterlife (cf. 2 Mac 12:39-45). Another possibility, suggested by the verses that follow (1 Cor 15:30-34), is that Paul is talking about people who endure a baptism of suffering for the sake of others who are physically or spiritually dead (Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50). Either way, Paul reasons that such baptisms are pointless apart from belief in a future resurrection. Back to text.

15:32 What do I gain: Suffering would be meaningless without the prospect of a heavenly reward (4:9-13; 2 Cor 4:11). Let us eat and drink: A quotation from Is 22:13. • Isaiah echoes the words of the wicked inhabitants of Jerusalem, who despised the Law of God in their pursuit of selfish enjoyments. Such a carefree philosophy of life makes sense only if there is no hope of life beyond death. Back to text.

15:33 Bad company ruins good morals: An excerpt from Thais, a comedy written by the Greek poet Menander. Paul cites it to warn that doctrinal error about the resurrection breeds immorality that is both destructive and contagious (6:13-14; Prov 13:20). Back to text.

15:35-58 Paul moves from defending the resurrection to explaining the constitution of resurrected bodies. For those Corinthians who believed a resurrection was impossible—given the frailty of our bodies at present—Paul insists that risen bodies will be clothed in power, glory, and immortality (15:42-44, 51-53). Back to text.

15:36 unless it dies: As seeds must decay in order to germinate and bring forth life, so death is merely a prelude to resurrection and new life (Jn 12:24). Paul may be continuing the illustration of 15:23, where the risen body of Christ is the first offering of a crop that consecrates a whole harvest of resurrected saints. Back to text.

15:38-41 Variations in nature between the dignity of living beings (men, animals, birds, fish) and heavenly bodies (sun, moon, stars) enable Paul to illustrate the different gradations of glory that will characterize the bodies of risen believers. •Daniel 12:2-3 likewise compares the righteous who rise again with the lights and stars shining in heaven. Back to text.

15:42-44 Our risen bodies will be the same bodies that we possessed during earthly life, only transformed by new and spiritual qualities. The Resurrection of Christ's crucified body is a demonstration of this (Jn 20:26-28; CCC 999, 1017). • Catholic theology enumerates four qualities that will endow the risen bodies of the saints: impassibility (immunity to suffering), agility (freedom from weakness), subtility (complete subjection of the body to the soul), and brightness (outward radiance in proportion to the degree of inward holiness). Back to text.

15:44 spiritual body: The body in its risen and glorified state. More than a resuscitated corpse, the resurrected body will be supernaturally transformed by the divine power of Christ (Phil 3:21). • It is not called a "spiritual" body because the body will become a spirit but because the body will remain immortal and incorruptible through the spirit that enlivens it (St. Fulgentius, On the Faith 70). Back to text.

15:45 The first man: The contrast between Adam and Christ shows that by nature we get a body from Adam that is physical, earthly, and mortal; and by grace we expect a body from Christ that is spiritual, heavenly, and immortal (15:21-22). • Paul draws on Gen 2:7 to hint that Adam's creation bears a certain likeness to Christ's Resurrection. Just as Adam's body was raised from the earth by the breath of natural life, so Christ's body was raised from the earth by the Spirit of supernatural life. It is this life-giving Spirit, now channeled to the world through the sacrament of Christ's risen humanity, that will raise our bodies also (Rom 8:11). Back to text.

15:50 flesh and blood: A Semitic idiom for human beings, weak and subject to corruption (Sir 14:18; Mt 16:17). Paul is not denying that resurrected bodies will have flesh and blood; his point is that our physical bodies cannot enter God's kingdom in their present state of weakness; they must be radically "changed" (1 Cor 15:51). Back to text.

15:51 We shall not all sleep: The last generation that lives to see Christ return may be spared the experience of bodily death. Some scholars interpret this verse to mean that Paul expected Christ to come again during his own lifetime, since he seems to number himself ("we") among this final generation of Christians. Two considerations, however, suggest these words are rhetorical and should not be taken literally. (1) Elsewhere Paul counts himself among those who would be raised ("us") from the dead (1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14). (2) Paul sees death, through either hardship or martyrdom, as a real possibility for himself in several letters (2 Cor 1:8-9; Phil 3:10-11; 2 Tim 4:6). Back to text.

15:52 the last trumpet: The final blast that will inaugurate the general resurrection (1 Thess 4:16). • Several uses of the trumpet in ancient Israel fill out the background to this image. The trumpet was a liturgical instrument that summoned Israel to meet the Lord (Ex 19:16-17), to worship him on the Feast of Trumpets (Lev 23:23-25), and to enjoy his rest every jubilee year (Lev 25:9). The trumpet was also a military instrument that called soldiers into battle (Judg 7:19-23; Jer 4:19). These uses overlapped in the conquest of Jericho, where the military operation against the city was itself a liturgical action of processing and blowing trumpets (Josh 6:1-21). Trumpet imagery is also used in the Prophets to signal Israel's restoration from the covenant death of exile (Is 27:13) and to commence the judgment of the wicked on the "day of the Lord" (Joel 2:1; Zeph 1:15-16). Back to text.

15:53 put on immortality: Our risen bodies will be robed with undying life, not stripped away like worthless garments. See note on 2 Cor 5:4Back to text.

15:54-55 Paul appeals to Is 25:8 and Hos 13:14 to announce the final demise of death. • Isaiah describes a banquet of rich foods where all nations come to celebrate the end of suffering as the Lord swallows up death for ever. Hosea likewise forecasts that death will one day be robbed of its power and taunted like a defeated enemy. In Paul's mind, this day will dawn with the general resurrection. Back to text.

15:58 your labor is not in vain: The assurance that God will reward our faithfulness in the resurrection puts the struggles of daily life in perspective. Practically speaking, Paul is summoning us to glorify God in our bodies (6:20; CCC 364). Back to text.

16:1-4 Paul spent considerable energy on his third missionary journey collecting donations for the poor of Jerusalem (Rom 15:25-27; 2 Cor 8-9). On the one hand, this relief offering was meant to alleviate suffering in the mother Church of Christianity. On the other, Paul was asking his Gentile Churches to make a symbolic gesture of unity and solidarity with Jewish believers in need. The gift was successfully delivered on his final journey to Judea (Acts 24:17). Back to text.

16:1 Now concerning: Paul is responding to an inquiry from a previous Corinthian letter. See note on 1 Cor 7:1Back to text.

16:2 first day of every week: Sunday, the Lord's day (Acts 20:7; Rev 1:10). Paul is probably directing his readers to collect their donations when they gather for prayer and eucharistic worship. He hopes they will give generously to this charitable campaign (2 Cor 9:6-15; CCC 1351). Back to text.

16:5 Macedonia: A Roman province in upper Greece, just north of the province of Achaia, where the city of Corinth is located. Back to text.

16:8 Ephesus: Paul was writing from the capital of the Roman province of Asia (modern Turkey). He eventually made it to Corinth (Acts 20:1-2) after Pentecost, which was a Jewish festival celebrated in the spring, 50 days after Passover (Lev 23:15-21). Back to text.

16:10 Timothy: One of Paul's delegates sent ahead to Corinth (4:17). See note on 1 Tim 1:2Back to text.

16:12 Apollos: A missionary who had worked in Corinth but was now in Asia (1:12; 3:5-6). The Corinthians may have requested his return. Back to text.

16:14 Let all . . . be done in love: This verse is a concise summary of Paul's teaching in the letter (8:1-3; 13:1-13; 14:1; 16:22). Back to text.

16:17 Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: Possibly the informants from Chloe who updated Paul on the struggles of the Corinthian Church (1:11). They may have also delivered to him the Church's letter of questions (7:1). Back to text.

16:19 Aquila and Prisca: A Christian couple who worked closely with Paul as tentmakers and missionaries, first in Corinth and then in Ephesus (Acts 18:1-3, 18-19). They opened their home for Christian gatherings (Rom 16:3-5). "Prisca" is an alternative spelling for "Priscilla". Back to text.

16:20 a holy kiss: A customary sign of peace and brotherly affection among the early Christians (Rom 16:16; 1 Thess 5:26). Back to text.

16:21 I, Paul, write this: Paul's handwritten signature was a mark of the letter's authenticity (2 Thess 3:17). Most of the letter was probably dictated to a secretary (cf. Rom 16:22). Back to text.

16:22 Our Lord, come!: A rendering of the Aramaic expression, marana tha ("Lord, come!"). This prayer, which is likewise echoed in Rev 22:20, was spoken at the end of one of the the earliest eucharistic liturgies on record (Didache 10, 6). Its use in the liturgy indicates what Paul himself asserts in 1 Cor 11:26, namely, that the sacramental worship of the Church is oriented to the coming of Christ in glory (CCC 671). See note on 1 Cor 11:26Back to text.

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