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1 Corinthians 1:26

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Ye see your calling - Την κλησιν . The state of grace and blessedness to which ye are invited. I think, βλεπετε την κλησιν, etc., should be read in the imperative: Take heed to, or consider your calling, brethren; that (ὁτι ) not many of you are wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble: men is not in the original, and Paul seems to allude to the Corinthian believers in particular. This seems to have been said in opposition to the high and worldly notions of the Jews, who assert that the Divine Spirit never rests upon any man, unless he be wise, powerful, and rich. Now this Divine Spirit did rest upon the Christians at Corinth, and yet these were, in the sense of the world, neither wise, rich, nor noble. We spoil, if not corrupt the apostle's meaning, by adding are called, as if God did not send his Gospel to the wise, the powerful, and the noble, or did not will their salvation. The truth is, the Gospel has an equal call to all classes of men; but the wise, the mighty, and the noble, are too busy, or too sensual, to pay any attention to an invitation so spiritual and so Divine; and therefore there are few of these in the Church of Christ in general.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For ye see your calling - You know the general character and condition of those who are Christians among you, that they have not been generally taken from the wise, the rich, and the learned, but from humble life. The design of the apostle here is, to show that the gospel did not depend for its success on human wisdom. His argument is, that “in fact” those who were blessed by it had not been of the elevated ranks of life mainly, but that God had shown his power by choosing those who were ignorant, and vicious, and abandoned, and by reforming and purifying their lives. The verb “ye see” βλέπετε blepeteis ambiguous, and may be either in the indicative mood, as our translators have rendered it, “ye do see; you are well apprised of it, and know it,” or it may be in the imperative, “see; contemplate your condition;” but the sense is substantially the same. “Your calling” ( τὴν κλῆσιν tēn klēsin) means “those who are called” 1 Corinthians 1:9; as “the circumcision” means those who are circumcised. Romans 3:30. The sense is, “took upon the condition of those who are Christians.”

Not many wise men - Not many who are regarded as wise; or who are ranked with philosophers. This supposes that there were some of that description, though the mass of Christians were then, as now, from more humble ranks of life. That there were some of high rank and wealth at Corinth who became Christians, is well known. Crispus and Sosthenes, rulers of the synagogue there (Acts 28:8, Acts 28:17; Compare 1 Corinthians 1:1); Gaius, a rich, hospitable man Romans 16:23; and Erastus the chancellor of the city of Corinth Romans 16:23, had been converted and were members of the church. Some have supposed (“Macknight”) that this should be rendered “not many mighty, wise, etc. ‹call you;‘ that is, God has not employed the wise and the learned ‹to call‘ you into his kingdom.” But the sense in our translation is evidently the correct interpretation. It is the obvious sense; and it agrees with the design of the apostle, which was to show that God had not consulted the wisdom, and power, and wealth of men in the establishment of his church. So the Syriac and the Vulgate render it.

According to the flesh - According to the maxims and principles of a sensual and worldly policy; according to the views of people when under the influence of those principles; that is, who are unrenewed. The flesh here stands opposed to the spirit; the views of the people of this world in contradistinction from the wisdom that is from above.

Not many mighty - Not many people of power; or men sustaining important “offices” in the state. Comp, Revelation 6:15. The word may refer to those who wield power of any kind, whether derived from office, from rank, from wealth, etc.

Not many noble - Not many of illustrious birth, or descended from illustrious families - εὐγενεῖς eugeneis“well-born.” In respect to each of these classes, the apostle does not say that there were no men of wealth, and power, and birth, but that the mass or body of Christians was not composed of such. They were made up of those who were in humble life. There were a few, indeed, of rank and property, as there are now; but then, as now, the great mass was composed of those who were from the lower conditions of society. The reason why God had chosen his people from that rank is stated in 1 Corinthians 1:29. The character of many of those who composed the church at Corinth before the conversion, is stated in 1 Corinthians 6:10-11, which see.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God did not choose philosophers, nor orators, nor statesmen, nor men of wealth, and power, and interest in the world, to publish the gospel of grace and peace. He best judges what men and what measures serve the purposes of his glory. Though not many noble are usually called by Divine grace, there have been some such in every age, who have not been ashamed of the gospel of Christ; and persons of every rank stand in need of pardoning grace. Often, a humble Christian, though poor as to this world, has more true knowledge of the gospel, than those who have made the letter of Scripture the study of their lives, but who have studied it rather as the witness of men, than as the word of God. And even young children have gained such knowledge of Divine truth as to silence infidels. The reason is, they are taught of God; the design is, that no flesh should glory in his presence. That distinction, in which alone they might glory, was not of themselves. It was by the sovereign choice and regenerating grace of God, that they were in Jesus Christ by faith. He is made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; all we need, or can desire. And he is made wisdom to us, that by his word and Spirit, and from his fulness and treasures of wisdom and knowledge, we may receive all that will make us wise unto salvation, and fit for every service to which we are called. We are guilty, liable to just punishment; and he is made righteousness, our great atonement and sacrifice. We are depraved and corrupt, and he is made sanctification, that he may in the end be made complete redemption; may free the soul from the being of sin, and loose the body from the bonds of the grave. And this is, that all flesh, according to the prophecy by Jeremiah, Jer 9:23-24, may glory in the special favour, all-sufficient grace, and precious salvation of Jehovah.
Ellen G. White
Evangelism, 565

Christ Met Their Minds—We may do much in a short time if we will work as Christ worked. We may reflect with profit upon His manner of teaching. He sought to meet the minds of the common people. His style was plain, simple, comprehensive. He took His illustrations from the scenes with which His hearers were most familiar. By the things of nature He illustrated truths of eternal importance, thus connecting heaven and earth.—Manuscript 24, 1903. Ev 565.1

Study Christ's Simplicity—The Saviour came “to preach the gospel to the poor.” In His teaching He used the simplest terms and the plainest symbols. And it is said that “the common people heard Him gladly.” Those who are seeking to do His work for this time need a deeper insight into the lessons He has given.—The Ministry of Healing, 443 (1905). Ev 565.2

Lord's People Mainly Common People—The Lord's people are mainly made up of the poor of this world, the common people. Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble are called. God hath “chosen the poor of this world.” “The poor have the gospel preached to them.” The wealthy are called, in one sense; they are invited, but they do not accept the invitation. But in these wicked cities the Lord has many who are humble and yet trustful.—Manuscript 17, 1898. Ev 565.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 461

The gospel has ever achieved its greatest success among the humbler classes. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” 1 Corinthians 1:26. It could not be expected that Paul, a poor and friendless prisoner, would be able to gain the attention of the wealthy and titled classes of Roman citizens. To them vice presented all its glittering allurements and held them willing captives. But from among the toilworn, want-stricken victims of their oppression, even from among the poor slaves, many gladly listened to the words of Paul and in the faith of Christ found a hope and peace that cheered them under the hardships of their lot. AA 461.1

Yet while the apostle's work began with the humble and the lowly, its influence extended until it reached the very palace of the emperor. AA 461.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 481-2

God declares, “I will be glorified in My people;” but the self-confident management of men has resulted in putting God aside, and accepting the devisings of men. If you allow this to continue, your faith will soon become extinct. God is in every place, beholding the conduct of the people who profess to represent the principles of His word. He asks that a change be made. He wants His people to be molded and fashioned, not after man's ideas, but after the similitude of God. I entreat of you to search the Scriptures as you have never yet searched them that you may know the way and will of God. Oh, that every soul might be impressed with this message, and put away the wrong! TM 481.1

We would do well to study carefully the first and second chapters of 1 Corinthians. “We preach Christ crucified,” the apostle declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” The human being who undertakes to become wisdom for another will find himself coming short. TM 481.2

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Ellen G. White
The Voice in Speech and Song, 322.2

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. VSS 322.2

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