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It's best to make sure that these passages are interpreted correctly. Here's a sure guide.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1-13:

185. – Having rebuked the Corinthians for glorying in certain ministers, the Apostle now attacks them for looking down on other ministers. In regard to this he does two things: first, he censures their guilt; secondly, he concentrates on correcting them (v. 14). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he censures their rashness in judging ill of ministers; secondly, their arrogance in looking down on ministers of Christ (v. 6). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he shows what should be assuredly felt about Christ’s ministers; secondly, that they should not be judged rashly (v. 2).

186. – First, therefore, he says: I have said that none of you should glory in men; nevertheless, each of you should recognize the authority of our office, which is that we are mediators between Christ Whom we serve—he refers to this when he says: This is how one should regard us, as ministers of Christ; “Men shall speak of you as the ministers of our God” (Is 61:6)—and His members who are the faithful of the Church, to whom we dispense Christ’s gifts. He refers to this when he says: and stewards of the mysteries of God, i.e., of His secrets. These are His spiritual teachings: “He utters mysteries in the Spirit” (1 Cor 14:2) or the sacraments of the Church, in which divine power secretly works salvation; hence in the formula for consecrating the Eucharist it is said: “a mystery of faith.”

187. – Therefore, in governing their subjects the prelates of the Church should seek to serves Christ alone, for love of Whom they feed His sheep: “If you love me, feed my sheep” (Jn. 21:17). Furthermore, they should dispense the things of God to the people: “I am entrusted with a commission” (1 Cor 9:17). It is in this way that they are mediators between Christ and the people: “I stood between the Lord and you at that time” (Dt 5:5). This view of the Church’s prelates is necessary for the salvation of the faithful, for unless they recognize them as Christ’s ministers, they will not obey them as Christ: “You received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus” (Gal 4:14). Again, if they do not regard them as stewards, they would refuse to receive gifts from them, contrary to what he Apostle says: “What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ” (2 Cor 2:10).

188. – Then when he says, Moreover it is required, he shows that they should not judge rashly in matters concerning Christ’s ministers. In regard to this he does three things: first, he mentions the standard by which to judge the faithfulness of ministers; secondly, he shows that he is not concerned about this judgment but leaves it to God (v. 3); thirdly he concludes his prohibition against rash judgment (v. 5).

189. – In regard to the first it should be noted that some are faithful ministers and dispensers of Christ, and some unfaithful. The unfaithful ministers do not seek the people’s welfare and Christ’s honor, when they dispense the divine mysteries: “You have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon” (Lk 16:11). But the faithful ones seek the honor of God and the welfare of His members in all things: “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household?” (Lk 12:42). Who the faithful ministers are will be disclosed in the divine judgment to come. But the Corinthians rashly desired to discuss which dispensers were faithful and which unfaithful. And this is what he says: moreover, now, i.e., in the present time, it is required, i.e., it is being discussed, that stewards be found trustworthy. For they judged that many were unfaithful, supposing that scarcely anyone was faithful: “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but a faithful man who can find?” (Pr 20:6).

190. – Then when he says, But with me, he shows that he has no regard for this judgment. First, he asserts that he is not concerned about the judgment of others on this point, saying: But with me who am the least of the dispensers, it is a very small thing, i.e., I regard it a trivial good, to be judged by you as faithful or unfaithful. But lest they suppose that he says these things out of contempt, as though he scorned their opinion as coming from worthless persons, he adds, or by any human court, i.e., by the intellect of persons judging in this time. As if to say: I am little concerned about your judgment or any man’s: “I have not desired the day of man, thou knowest.” (Jer 17:16).

191. – It should be noted, however, that one should have regard for men’s judgment in two ways: first, in regard to others who are edified or scandalized by what is heard. For this reason the saints did not regard it a small thing but very important to be judged by men, since the Lord said: “That they may see your good works and give glory to your Father, who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Secondly, in regard to themselves, and then they do not care much, because they neither desire human glory: “Nor sought we the glory of men, neither of you nor of others” (1 Th 2:6), nor fear men’s reproaches: “Fear not the reproach of men, and be not afraid of their blasphemies” (Is 51:7). Hence the Apostle says significantly: But with me, i.e., as far as it pertains to me. Nor does he regard it as nothing, but as a small thing, because temporal things, among which a good reputation finds a place, are not null goods but very small ones, as Augustine says in the book On Free Will. Hence it is also stated in Wis (7:9): “All gold in comparison of her is as a little sand.”

192. – Secondly, he shows that he does not even presume to judge himself, saying: I do not even judge myself. But this seems to conflict with a later statement: “If we judged ourselves truly, we should no be judged” (1 Cor 11:31). Therefore, everyone should judge himself. However, it should be noted that everyone should judge himself with the judgment of self-examination, about which the Apostle speak here, according to the spirit of Ps 77 (v. 6): “I meditate and search my spirit,” as well as with the judgment of condemnation and reproach in the face of obvious evils: “I will reprove my ways in his sight” (Jb 13:15). But with the judgment of absolution a person should not presume to judge himself innocent: “Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse” (Jb 9:20). He assigns the reason for this when he says: I am not aware of anything against myself, i.e., I am not aware of any mortal sin: “My heart does not reproach me for any of my days” (Jb 27:6); but I am not thereby acquitted, i.e., that does not suffice for pronouncing myself just, because certains sins can be hiding in me, which I do not know: “Who can discern his sins?” (Ps 19:12); “I am blameless; I regard not myself” (Jb 9:21).

193. – Thirdly, he concludes to the one to whom this judgment should be reserved, saying: It is the Lord who judges me, i.e., it is God’s exclusive province to judge whether I am a faithful minister or not, because this pertains to the heart’s intention, which God alone can weigh: “The Lord weighs the spirit” (Pr 16:2); “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? I the Lord search the mind and try the heart” (Jer 17:9).

194. – The when he says, Judge not before, he concludes the prohibition against rash judgment. In regard to this he does three things: first, he forbids them to anticipate God’s judgment, saying: Therefore, in keeping with my example, who neither judge myself nor care about being judged by others, but reserve my judgment to God, do not pronounce judgment before the time, because “every matter has its time” (Ec 8:6), before the Lord comes to judge: “The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people” (Is 3:14). Hence the Lord Himself said: “Judge not” (Matt 7:1). However, this must be understood of hidden things, because God has commissioned men to judge manifest things: “Hear then and judge what is just” (Dt 1:16).

195. – For some things are manifested not only by the evidence of the fact, being notorious, but also by confession or by the proved testimony of witnesses. But God reserves hidden things for His own judgment. But things which lie in our heart or are done in secret are hidden to ourselves. Of these it says in Ps 4 (v. 5): “The things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.” Hence a man is as rash in judging about these matters as a delegated judge, who exceeds his mandate by judging matter not committed to him. Consequently, a judgment is rash, when a person judges about doubtful matters; but it is perverse, when he pronounces a false judgment. Now although judgment should not be made concerning persons, as when a person judges as evil a man who is good, nevertheless it is more grievous, when it is a perverse judgment about things themselves, as when a person says that virginity is evil and fornication good, against which Is (5:20) says: “Woe to you that call good evil and evil good.”

196. – Secondly, he describes the completeness of the divine judgment to come, saying: who, namely the Lord coming to judgment, will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness, i.e., will make clear and obvious the things done secretly in darkness; and will disclose the purposes of the heart, i.e., all the secrets of the heart: “He reveals deep things out of darkness, and brings up to light the shadow of death” (Jb 12:22); “I will search Jerusalem with lamps” (Zeph 1:12). This, of course, refers both to good things and to evil things that have been committed and covered over by penance, for Ps 32 (v.1): “Blessed is he whose transgressions is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

197. – Thirdly, he mentions the fruit which good men will obtain from the divine judgment, saying: Then every man will receive his commendation from God, i.e., every man that is good. This commendation will be true, because God can neither deceive nor be deceived: “His praise is not from men but from God” (Rom 2:29); “It is not the man who commends himself that is accepted, but the man whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor 10:18).

198. – After berating the Corinthians for the rashness with which they judged Christ’s ministers, the Apostle now censures the self-satisfaction with which they scorned Christ’s ministers. In regard to his he does three things: first, he states his proposition; secondly, he assigns a reason (v. 7); thirdly, be belittles their contemptuous attitude (v. 8).

199. – In regard to the first it should be noted that above when the Apostle tried to repress the rivalry about ministers among the Corinthians, he had used the names of good ministers of Christ, as when he said: “Each one of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas’” (1 Cor 1:12) and again: “Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas” (1 Cor 3:22). But in fact they were not glorying in Christ’s good ministers or disagreeing over them but over the false apostles, whom he chose not to name, lest it seem that he was speaking against them from hatred or envy. Rather he had employed his own name and the names of other good preachers. And that is what he is saying now: But all this, brethren, namely, what I have said about the ministers in whom you glory and for whom you compete, I have applied to myself and Apollos. For it says in Pr (1:6): “To understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles,” and this for your benefit: “All things are for your sakes” (2 Cor 4:15); that you may learn by us that none of you may be puffed up, i.e., with pride, in favor of one, i.e., for any of Christ’s ministers, against another [above that which is written], i.e., beyond the form described in the foregoing; for Wis (4:19) states: “He will dash them puffed up and speechless to the ground.”

200. – Then he assigns the reason why one should not be puffed up against another, saying: For who sees anything different in you? This can be interpreted in two ways: in one way so that it means, “Who distinguished you from the mass of the damned?” You cannot distinguish yourself; hence you have nothing in you as a ground for exalting yourself. Of this distinction Ps 43 (v.1): “Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from an ungodly people.” It can be understood in another way: Who sees anything different in you to make you superior to your neighbor? This is something you cannot do; hence you should not exalt yourself above him. Of this exaltation Sirach (33:11) says: “In the fullness of his knowledge God distinguished them and appointed their different ways.” But there is no distinction among men, insofar as they are Christ’s faithful, because “we, though many, are one body in Christ” (Rom 12:5); “God put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Ac 15:9).

201. – Then he dismisses an apparent reason. For someone could be distinguished from good or from evil men, because he is better than they on account of the blessings he has, such as faith, wisdom and the like. But the Apostle excludes this, saying: What have you that you did not receive? As if to say: Nothing; for all blessings come from God: “When you open your hand, they are filled with good things” (Ps 104: 28); “All things come from you, and of your own have we given you” (1 Chr 29:14). From this he draws his conclusion, saying: If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? Accordingly, a person boasts as though he did not receive, when he boasts in himself and not in God, as those mentioned in Ps 49 (v.6): “Men who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches.”

202. – This is the way the first form of pride expresses itself, namely, when a person, taking pride in what he has, says that he has it of himself, as Ps 12 (v. 4): “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is our master?” But a person boasts as one receiving, when he glories in himself by ascribing everything to God, as was said above (1:31): “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.” To boast in this way is not pride but humility under God, to Whom a man gives glory as in Sirach (51:17): “To him who gives me wisdom I will give glory.”

203. – Then when he says, Already you are filled!, he mocks the pride of those who looked down on Christ’s apostles: first, in general; then specifically. As to the first he does two things: first, he ridicules them for presuming too much on themselves; secondly, for looking down on the apostles (v. 9). In regard to the first he does two things: first, he mocks them for presuming to attribute to themselves what they did not have; secondly, for attributing to themselves an abundance of good things, some of which are internal.

204. – In regard to these he says, already you are filled, i.e., it seems to you that you are filled, i.e., completely sated with spiritual delights, about which Ps 17 (v. 15) says: “I shall be satisfied, when your glory shall appear.” But it could have been true to say to them, already you are filled, not with fullness but with nausea: “He who is sated loathes honey” (Pr 27:7). But some goods were external. In regard to these he says, Already you have become rich! It seems to you, with spiritual riches about which Is (33:6) says: “Riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge.” This is similar to Rev (3:17) “You say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.”

205. – But this seems to conflict with his earlier statement (1:5): “In every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge.” The answer is that the earlier statement referred to the good men among them; but there he is speaking about the presumptuous ones, who took pride in what they did not have. Or a distinction can be made between fullness and riches, so that the former refers to using grace to enjoy spiritual things, whereas riches would refer to the very possession of grace.

206. – Secondly, when he says, Without us you have become kings!, he makes sport of them for attributing to themselves individually things they did not possess individually; hence he says, without us you have become kings, i.e., you seem to think that the kingdom belongs to you and not to us. For they had been deceived by the false apostles to such an extent as to suppose that they alone possessed the truths of faith, which consists in the kingdom of God, and that the Apostle and his followers were in error. Against these Is (5:8): “Do you alone live in the middle of the earth?” And lest it seem that the Apostle says this out of envy, he continues: And would that you did reign. Thus he wishes them to have the true faith: “I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as

I am – except for these chains” (Ac 26:29). And to offer them an example of humility he adds: that we might share the rule with you! As if to say: If you have anything worthwhile, I am not too proud to follow you, as you disdain to follow us, contrary to what he advises in Gal (4:18): “Be zealous for what is good in a good thing always.”

207. – It should be noted that the Apostle here touches on four kinds of pride. The first is when a person considers that what he has was not received from God. He touches on this form when he says: If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? Which can also pertain to the second form in which a person thinks that he has received by his own merits. The third form is when a person boasts that he has something he really does not have. In regard to this he says: Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! The fourth is when a person, looking down on others, wishes to seem unique. In regard to this he says: Without us you have become kings.

208. – Then when he says, For I think that God, he taunts them for looking down on Christ’s apostles. First, he describes the contempt ironically; secondly, the cause of the contempt (v. 9b).

209. – He says, therefore: I have just said that you have become kings without us, for I think, i.e., you seem to think, that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, whereas it says below (12:28): “God has appointed in the church first apostles. In this way is fulfilled what is stated in Matt (20:26): “The first shall be last, and the last first.” Then he gives an example, like men sentenced to death; for those condemned to death are reckoned last by men, as though not worthy to live. That is what the apostles were considered to be by worldly men: “We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Ps 44:22).

210. – Then when he says, we have become a spectacle, he indicates the cause of the contempt. In regard to this it should be noted that when people were condemned to death, men were summoned to the execution as to a spectacle, especially when they were condemned to be thrown to wild animals. Now because the apostles had been, as it were, appointed for death, he adds: we have become a spectacle to the world, as though the whole world had assembled to witness their slaughter: “Thou has bade us the taunt of our neighbors” (Ps 44:13). Then he explains what he meant by the word world, when he continues: to angels and to men, namely, good and evil. For good men came to the spectacle to sympathize and to witness an example of patience, but evil men to persecute and ridicule.

211. – Then when he says, We are fools, he derides them in particular for scorning the apostles. First, he mentions the contempt; secondly, the cause (v. 11).

212. – In regard to the first he taunts them for attributing greatness to themselves and shortcomings to the apostles. First, in regard to perfect understanding; hence he says: We are fools for Christ’s sake, i.e., we are accounted fools, because we preach the cross of Christ: “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18), and also because we suffer reproach and opposition for the sake of Christ, in keeping with Wis (5:4): “We fools! We thought that his life was madness and that his end was without honor,” and as exemplified in Ac (26:24): “Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are mad; your great learning is turning you mad.’” But you in your opinion are wise in Christ, namely, because you neither dare to confess His cross publicly nor suffer persecution for him: “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer discreetly.” (Pr 26:16).

213. – Secondly, in regard to power to act when he says: We are weak, namely, in externals on account of the afflictions we endure: “I will all the more boast of my weaknesses” (2 Cor 12:9); but you in your opinion are strong, namely, in material things, because you live in security without harassment: “Woe to you who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink” (Is 5:22). You are held in honor, i.e., in your own eyes you are worthy of honor, because you do not suffer public shame: “I am a son of the wise, a son of ancient kings” (Is 19:11), but we in disrepute, according to your opinion and that of others, because we are considered contemptible: “God chose what is low and despised” (1 Cor 1:28). And yet the truth is the exact opposite, for only those who scorn God are worthy of scorn: “Those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam 2:30).

214. – Then when he says, To the present hour, he discloses the cause of this scorn: first, he assigns the lack of temporal goods as the cause; secondly, the evils they suffered (v. 12); thirdly, he reaches his conclusion (v. 15).

215. – As to the first he mentions the privations they suffered in necessary things; hence in regard to food and drink he says: To the present hour we hunger and thirst, namely, without interruption form the time of our conversion to the present moment: “In hunger and thirst” (2 Cor 11:17). As to clothing he says: we are ill-clad, i.e., because of our need for clothing, since we are sometimes despoiled: “They lie all night naked, without clothing, and have no covering in the cold” (Jb 24:7). But this seems to conflict with Ps 37 (v. 25): “I have not seem the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread.” The answer is that although the apostles suffered, they were not abandoned, because divine providence set limits to their abundance and their needs according to what was suitable for exercising virtue. Hence the Apostle says in Phil (4:12): “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

216. – Secondly, he mentions their lack of things pertaining to the better aspects of human life, the first of which is respect from others. But they received the opposite: We are buffeted, which aims more at shame than punishment; hence we read of Christ that they spat in His face and slapped him. The second is peace and quiet. Here again they endured the opposite: and homeless, both because they were expelled from place to place by their persecutors: “If they persecute you in one city, flee to another” (Matt 10:23), and because they went everywhere to perform their office: “I have appointed you that you should go” (Jn. 15:16). The third is help from servants. But they experienced the opposite: and we labor, working with our own hands, both because they often received nothing from anyone to support them and because they earned their living by the work of their own hands either to avoid being a burden to the faithful or to rebuff false apostles who preached for money, and also because they wanted to give the idle an example of work, as he says in 2 Th (3:9); hence Paul says: “These hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me” (Ac 20:34).

217. – Then when he says, we are reviled, we bless, he mentions the evils when the apostles endured: first, in words when he says: we are reviled, i.e., men speak evil of us either to detract us or to insult us to even to curse us: “All curse me” (Jer 15:10), and we bless, i.e., return good for evil: “Do not return evil for evil, but on the contrary, bless” (1 Pt 3:9). Secondly, in deeds; hence he says: when persecuted, not only because we are chased from place to place, which is persecution in the strict sense, but also because we are harassed in many ways: “Many are my persecutors and my adversaries” (Ps 119:157), and we endure it, namely, in Christ: “A patient man will endure until the right moment” (Sir 1:23). Thirdly, he touches on the cause of each when he says: we are slandered, i.e., we are called sorcerers, evil-doers and enemies of God: “The hour comes what whosoever kills you, will think that he does a service to God” (Jn. 16:2); Why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying.” (Rom 3:8); yet we entreat God for those who persecute and slander us: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44).

218. – Then when he says, we have become, he sums up their contempt, saying: On account of the foregoing we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, i.e., both Jews and Gentiles think that the world is befouled by us and that it would be cleansed by our slaughter, the offscouring of all. Offscouring is the filth scraped from fruit or iron or any other things. He says, and are now, because they suffer these things without interruption. But it will stop sometime according to Wis (5:4): “This is the man whom we once help in derision and made a byword of reproach,” and then continues in (5:5): “Why has he been numbered among the songs of God?”

(12-21-2011, 05:39 PM)Jackson K. Eskew Wrote: [ -> ]It's best to make sure that these passages are interpreted correctly. Here's a sure guide.

Thanks for the data dump. Who do you think you are? Some kind of lawyer who is going to file brief after brief and bury ideas and justice under a ton of paper?

First, try to understand what I am saying, and then respond to it. You supply where I have erred in my interpration of it. Then if you must, you back it up with St. Thomas.

Got it.
(12-22-2011, 10:04 AM)Adam Wayne Wrote: [ -> ]
(12-21-2011, 05:39 PM)Jackson K. Eskew Wrote: [ -> ]It's best to make sure that these passages are interpreted correctly. Here's a sure guide.

Thanks for the data dump. Who do you think you are? Some kind of lawyer who is going to file brief after brief and bury ideas and justice under a ton of paper?

First, try to understand what I am saying, and then respond to it. You supply where I have erred in my interpration of it. Then if you must, you back it up with St. Thomas.

Got it.

What a strange - one might even say muliebral - reaction. I'm baffled.  Huh? Do you say "Yay!"?
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