Deus infirma elegit
God’s choice of the weak
1:26 Videte enim vocationem vestram, fratres, quia non multi sapientes secundum carnem, non multi potentes, non multi nobiles: [n. 63]
1:26 For see your vocation, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble. [n. 63]
1:27 sed quae stulta sunt mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat sapientes: et infirma mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat fortia: [n. 65]
1:27 But the foolish things of the world, God has chosen, that he may confound the wise: and the weak things of the world, God has chosen, that he may confound the strong. [n. 65]
1:28 et ignobilia mundi, et contemptibilia elegit Deus, et ea quae non sunt, ut ea quae sunt destrueret: [n. 67]
1:28 And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, God has chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to naught things that are: [n. 67]
1:29 ut non glorietur omnis caro in conspectu ejus. [n. 68]
1:29 That no flesh should glory in his sight. [n. 68]
1:30 Ex ipso autem vos estis in Christo Jesu, qui factus est nobis sapientia a Deo, et justitia, et sanctificatio, et redemptio: [n. 69]
1:30 But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and justice and sanctification and redemption: [n. 69]
1:31 ut quemadmodum scriptum est: qui gloriatur, in Domino glorietur. [n. 72]
1:31 That, as it is written: he who glories may glory in the Lord. [n. 72]
63. Supra ostendit Apostolus quod modus docendi, qui est in sapientia verbi, non convenit doctrinae Christianae, ratione materiae quae est ipsa crux Christi, hic ostendit quod praedictus docendi modus non convenit doctrinae Christianae, ratione doctorum, secundum illud Prov. XXVI, 7: in derisum est in ore stulti parabola; et Eccli. c. XX, 22: ex ore fatui reprobabitur parabola. Quia igitur primi doctores fidei non fuerunt sapientes sapientia carnali, non erat eis conveniens ut in sapientia verbi docerent.
63. After showing that the method of teaching according to eloquent wisdom does not suit Christian doctrine by reason of its subject matter, the cross of Christ, the Apostle now shows that the same method is not suitable for Christian teaching by reason of the teachers: a parable is unseemly in the mouth of fools (Prov 26:7); a parable out of a fool’s mouth shall be rejected (Sir 20:22). Therefore, because the first teachers of the faith were not wise in carnal wisdom, it was not suitable for them to teach according to eloquent wisdom.
Circa hoc ergo duo facit.
In regard to this he does two things.
Primo ostendit quomodo primi doctores fidei non fuerunt sapientes sapientia carnali et in rebus humanis defectum patiebantur;
First, he shows how the first teachers of the faith were not versed in carnal wisdom and suffered from a defect in human affairs;
secundo ostendit quomodo talis defectus est in eis per Christum suppletus, ibi ex ipso autem vos estis.
second, how this defect was made up for them by Christ, at but of him are you.
Circa primum tria facit.
As to the first he does three things.
Primo excludit a fidei primis doctoribus excellentiam saecularem;
First, he excludes worldly excellence from the first teachers of the faith;
secundo astruit eorum subiectionem quantum ad saeculum, ibi sed quae stulta sunt mundi;
second, he adds to their subjection in regard to the world, at but the foolish things of the world;
tertio rationem assignat, ibi ut non glorietur.
third, he assigns the reason, at that no flesh should glory.
64. Dicit ergo primo: dictum est quod stultum est Dei, sapientius est hominibus, et hoc considerare potestis in ipsa vestra conversione. Videte enim, id est diligenter considerate, vocationem vestram, quomodo scilicet vocati estis: non enim per vos ipsos accessistis, sed ab eo vocati estis. Rom. VIII, v. 30: quos praedestinavit, hos et vocavit. I Petr. II, 9: de tenebris vos vocavit in admirabile lumen suum.
64. He says, therefore: it has been stated that the foolishness of God is wiser than men (1 Cor 1:25), and you can consider this in your own life; for see, i.e., consider carefully, your vocation, brethren, i.e., how you were called: for you did not approach him by yourselves but you were called by him: whom he predestined he also called (Rom 8:30); he called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9).
Inducit autem eos ut considerent modum suae vocationis, quantum ad eos per quos vocati sunt, sicut Is. LI, 2 dicitur: attendite ad Abraham patrem vestrum, et ad Saram quae genuit vos.
But he urges them to ponder the manner of their calling by considering the ones by whom they were called, as Isaiah says: look unto Abraham your father, and to Sarah that bore you (Isa 51:2).
A quibus vocationis ministris primo excludit sapientiam, cum dicit quia non multi, eorum per quos vocati estis, sapientes secundum carnem, id est in carnali sapientia et terrena. Iac. III, 15: non est ista sapientia desursum descendens, sed terrena, animalis, diabolica. Baruch III, 23: filii Agar exquisierunt sapientiam, quae de terra est. Dicit non multi, quia aliqui pauci erant etiam in sapientia mundana instructi, sicut ipse, et ut Barnabas, vel Moyses in Veteri Testamento, de quo dicitur Act. VII, 22, quod eruditus erat Moyses in omni sapientia Aegyptiorum.
From these ministers of our calling he first of all excludes wisdom when he says: that there are not many, of those by whom you were called, wise according to the flesh, i.e., in carnal and earthly wisdom: for this is not wisdom descending from above: but earthly, sensual, devilish (Jas 3:15); the children of Hagar also, who search after the wisdom that is of the earth (Bar 3:23). He says, not many, because some few had been instructed even in worldly wisdom, as he himself and Barnabas, or in the Old Testament Moses, of whom Acts says that he had been instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22).
Secundo excludit saecularem potentiam, cum dicit non multi potentes, scilicet secundum saeculum. Unde et Io. VII, 48 dicitur: numquid aliquis ex principibus credidit in eum? Et Bar. III, 16 dicitur: ubi sunt principes gentium? Exterminati sunt, et ad inferos descenderunt.
Second, he excludes worldly power when he says, not many mighty, namely, according to the world; hence it is said: has any one of the rulers believed in him? (John 7:48) Where are the princes of nations? They are cut off and are gone down into hell (Bar 3:16, 19).
Tertio excludit excellentiam generis, cum dicit non multi nobiles. Et aliqui inter eos nobiles fuerunt, sicut ipse Paulus, qui in civitate Romana se natum dicit, Act. XXII, 25, et Rom. ult. de quibusdam dicit qui sunt nobiles in apostolis.
Third, he excludes lofty birth when he says, not many noble. Yet some of them were noble, as Paul himself, who said that he had been born in a Roman city (Acts 22:25), and others referred to in Romans: they are men of notes among the apostles (Rom 16:7).
65. Deinde, cum dicit sed quae stulta sunt, etc., ponit e converso eorum abiectionem quantum ad mundum, et primo defectum contrarium sapientiae, cum dicit quae stulta sunt mundi, id est, eos qui secundum mundum stulti videbantur, elegit Deus ad praedicationis officium, scilicet piscatores illiteratos, secundum illud Act. IV, 13: comperto quod homines essent sine litteris et idiotae, admirabantur. Is. XXXIII, 18: ubi est litteratus, ubi verba legis ponderans? Et hoc ut confundat sapientes, id est eos qui de sapientia mundi confidunt, dum ipsi non cognoverunt quae sunt simplicibus revelata. Matth. XI, 25: abscondisti haec a sapientibus et prudentibus, et revelasti ea parvulis. Is. XIX, 12: ubi sunt nunc sapientes tui? Annuntient tibi.
65. Then when he says, but the foolish things, he shows that they were lowly according to worldly standards. First, he shows that they lacked wisdom when he says, the foolish things of the world, i.e., those whom the world would consider foolish, God has chosen for the offices of preaching, namely, ignorant fisherman: understanding that they were illiterate and ignorant men, they wondered (Acts 4:13); where is the learned? Where is he who ponders the words of the law? (Isa 33:18). And this that he may confound the wise, i.e., those who trusted in the wisdom of the world, whereas they themselves did not know the truths revealed to the simple: you had hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes (Matt 11:25); where then are your wise men? Let them tell you what the Lord of hosts has purposed (Isa 19:12).
66. Secundo ponit defectum contrarium potentiae, dicens et infirma mundi, id est homines impotentes secundum mundum, puta rusticos et plebeios, elegit Deus ad praedicationis officium. In cuius figura dicitur III Reg. XX, 14: ego tradens eos in manu tua per pedissequos principum provinciarum; et Prov. IX, 3 dicitur quod sapientia misit ancillas ut vocarent ad arcem. In utrisque autem primorum praedicatorum infirmitas designatur. Et hoc ideo ut confundat fortia, id est potentes huius mundi. Is. II, 17: incurvabitur omnis sublimitas hominum, et humiliabitur altitudo virorum.
66. Second, he shows that they lacked power, saying, and the weak things of the world, i.e., men with no power in the world, such as peasants and plebeians, God has chosen for the office of preaching: I will deliver them into your hand by the servants of the governors of the districts (1 Kgs 20:13); and in Proverbs it says that wisdom has sent out her maids to call from the highest places in the town (Prov 9:3). Weakness is designated by both of these shortcomings in the first preachers; and this that he may confound the strong, i.e., the powerful of this world: the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low (Isa 2:17).
67. Tertio ponit defectum contrarium nobilitati, in quo possunt tria considerari.
67. Third, he mentions a defect of nobility, about which three things can be considered.
Primo quidem claritas generis, quam ipsum nomen nobilitatis designat. Et contra hoc dicit et ignobilia mundi, id est qui secundum mundum sunt ignobiles. Infra IV, 10: vos nobiles, nos autem ignobiles.
First, a certain splendor of rank, which is implied in the word nobility. And against this he says, and the base things of the world, i.e., the things that are ignoble according to the world: you are honorable, but we without honor (1 Cor 4:10).
Secundo, circa nobilitatem considerantur honor et reverentia quae talibus exhibentur, et contra hoc dicit et contemptibilia, id est homines contemptibiles in hoc mundo elegit Deus ad praedicationis officium, secundum illud Ps. LXXVIII, 4: facti sumus opprobrium vicinis nostris, et his qui in circuitu nostro sunt.
Second, about the nobility he considers the honor and reverence which is due to such people, and opposed to these he says, and the things that are contemptible, i.e., men looked down upon by the world, God has chosen for the office of preaching: we have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those round about us (Ps 79:4).
Tertio, in nobilitate consideratur magna opinio quam homines de eis habent. Et contra hoc dicit et ea quae non sunt, id est quae non videntur esse in saeculo, elegit Deus ad praedicationis officium. Iob XXX, 2: quorum virtus manuum erat mihi pro nihilo, et vita ipsa putabantur indigni. Et hoc ideo ut destrueret ea quae sunt, id est eos qui in hoc mundo aliquid esse videntur. Is. XXIII, v. 9: Dominus exercituum cogitavit hoc, ut detraheret superbiam omnis gloriae, et ad ignominiam deduceret universos inclytos terrae.
Third, the grand opinion men have of the nobility. Opposed to this he says, and things that are not, i.e., men who seem to be nothing in the world: the strength of whose hands was to me as nothing, and they were thought unworthy of life itself (Job 30:2), has God chosen for the office of preaching. This he did that he might bring to naught things that are, i.e., those who seem to be something in this world: the Lord of hosts had purposed it, to defile the pride of all glory, to dishonor all the honored of the earth (Isa 23:9).
68. Deinde assignat causam dictorum dicens: ideo non elegit in saeculo excellentes sed abiectos, ut non glorietur omnis caro, etc., id est ut nullus pro quacumque carnis excellentia glorietur per comparationem ad Dominum. Ier. IX, 23: non glorietur sapiens in sapientia sua, et non glorietur fortis in fortitudine sua et non glorietur dives in divitiis suis.
68. Then he reveals the cause of all this, saying: he has not chosen the great but the lowly, that no flesh should glory in his sight, i.e., that no one may glory in his own worldly greatness as compared with the Lord: let not the wise man glory in the wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, and let not the rich man glory in his riches (Jer 9:23).
Ex hoc enim quod Deus mundum suae fidei subiecit, non per sublimes in mundo, sive in saeculo, sed per abiectos, non potest gloriari homo quod per aliquam carnalem excellentiam salvatus sit mundus. Videretur autem non esse a Deo excellentia mundana, si Deus ea non uteretur ad suum obsequium. Et ideo in principio quidem paucos, postremo vero plures saeculariter excellentes Deus elegit ad praedicationis officium. Unde in Glossa dicitur, quod nisi fideliter praecederet piscator, non humiliter sequeretur orator. Et etiam ad gloriam Dei pertinet, dum per abiectos sublimes in saeculo ad se trahit.
For inasmuch as God did not subject the world to his faith by employing the great ones of the world but the lowly ones, man cannot boast that the world was saved by employing worldly greatness. However, since it might appear that worldly greatness did not originate from God, if he never employed it for his purposes, God employed a few and later a great number of the worldly great for the office of preaching. Hence a Gloss says that if the faithful fisherman had not come first, the humble orator could not have come later. Furthermore, it pertains to God’s glory to draw the great of the world by means of the lowly.
69. Deinde cum dicit ex ipso autem vos estis, ne praedicatores fidei tamquam non excellentes, sed abiecti in saeculo contemnerentur, ostendit quomodo Deus praedictum defectum in eis supplet. Et circa hoc tria facit.
69. Then when he says, but of him are you, he prevents the preachers of the faith, since they were not the worldly great but the lowly, from being regarded as contemptible, by showing how God supplied for their defects. In regard to this he does three things.
70. Primo ostendit cui sit attribuenda salus mundi, quae praedicatorum ministerio facta est, dicens: dictum est quod vocati estis non per excellentes sed per abiectos in saeculo, ex quo patet quod vestra conversio non est homini attribuenda sed Deo. Et hoc est quod dicit ex ipso autem, id est ex virtute Dei, vocati estis in Christo Iesu, id est ei iuncti et incorporati per gratiam. Eph. II, v. 10: ipsius enim factura sumus, creati in Christo Iesu in operibus bonis.
70. First, he indicates who deserves the honor for the world’s salvation, which was procured by the ministry of preaching. He says: you have been called not by the great of this world but by the lowly; consequently, your conversion should not be attributed to men but to God. In other words, but of him are you, i.e., by God’s power you are called in Christ Jesus, i.e., joined to him by grace: we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph 2:10).
71. Deinde ostendit quomodo Deus praedictos defectus in praedicatoribus suis supplet per Christum. Et primo quantum ad defectum sapientiae, cum dicit qui, scilicet Christus, factus est nobis praedicantibus fidem, et, per nos, omnibus fidelibus, sapientia, quia ei inhaerendo, qui est Dei sapientia, et participando ipsum per gratiam, sapientes facti sumus. Et hoc a Deo, qui nobis Christum dedit et nos ad ipsum traxit, secundum illud Io. VI, 44: nemo potest venire ad me, nisi Pater, qui me misit, traxerit eum. Deut. c. IV, 6: haec est vestra sapientia et intellectus coram populis.
71. Then he shows how God supplies for the deficiencies of his preachers by means of Christ: first, as to their lack of wisdom when he says, who, namely, Christ, is made unto us, who preach the faith, and by us unto all the faithful, wisdom, because by adhering to him who is the wisdom of God and by partaking of him through grace, we have been made wise; and this is our God, who gave Christ to us and few us to him, as it says in John: no man can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draw him (John 6:44); this is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of nations (Deut 4:6).
Secundo quantum ad defectum potentiae, dicit et iustitia, quae propter sui fortitudinem thoraci comparatur Sap. V, 19: induet pro thorace iustitiam. Dicitur autem Christus nobis factus iustitia, inquantum per eius fidem iustificamur, secundum illud Rom. III, v. 22: iustitia autem Dei per fidem Christi Iesu.
Second, as to their lack of power he says, and justice, which is called a breastplate because of its strength: he will put on righteousness as a breastplate (Wis 5:19). Now Christ is said to have been made righteousness for us, inasmuch as we are made righteous by faith, as it says in Romans: the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (Rom 3:22).
Tertio quantum ad defectum nobilitatis subdit et sanctificatio, et redemptio. Sanctificamur enim per Christum, inquantum per eum Deo coniungimur, in quo consistit vera nobilitas, secundum illud I Reg. II, 30: 1uicumque honorificaverit me, glorificabo eum, qui autem contemnunt me, erunt ignobiles. Unde dicitur Hebr. ult.: Iesus ut sanctificaret per suum sanguinem populum, extra portam passus est. Factus est autem nobis redemptio, inquantum per ipsum redempti sumus de servitute peccati, in quo vere ignobilitas consistit. Unde in Ps. XXX, 6 dicitur: redemisti me, Deus veritatis.
Third, as to their lack of nobility he says, and sanctification and redemption, for we are sanctified by Christ, inasmuch as it is through him that we are joined to God, in whom true nobility is found: those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed (1 Sam 2:30). Hence it is said: Jesus suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood (Heb 13:12). But he has been made our redemption, inasmuch as we have been redeemed by him from the slavery of sin, in which true baseness consists; hence it is said: you have redeemed me O Lord, faithful God (Ps 31:6).
72. Tertio assignat dictorum causam, cum dicit ut quemadmodum scriptum est: Ier. IX, 23 s., qui autem gloriatur, in Domino glorietur; ubi nostra littera habet: in hoc glorietur scire et nosse me.
72. Third, he assigns the cause of the above when he says, that, as it is written: he who glories may glory in the Lord, where our version has: in this let him glory, that he understands and knows me (Jer 9:24).
Dicit enim: si salus hominis non provenit ex aliqua excellentia humana, sed ex sola virtute divina, non debetur homini gloria, sed Deo, secundum illud Ps. CXIII, 1: non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. Eccli. ult.: danti mihi sapientiam, dabo gloriam.
For he is saying: if man’s salvation does not spring from any human greatness but solely from God’s power, the glory belongs not to man but to God, as it says in a Psalm: not to us, O Lord, not to us; but to your name give glory (Ps 115:1); to him who gives me wisdom will I give glory (Sir 51:23).