Category Archives: First Corinthians

Reflecting on First Corinthians for Easter Sunday

From First Corinthians by George T. Montague, SM, commenting on First Corinthians 5:6b-8

Yeast makes bread to rise, but it also corrupts.  . . .  A little yeast leavens all the dough. (The saying is repeated in Gal 5:9.) Indeed, it takes very little compared to the rest of the flour. Paul’s point is that one tolerated scandal can spoil the whole community, both within and as seen by outsiders.

The only way to assure that there is no corruption is to become a fresh batch of dough: to start over. But lest they misinterpret that, Paul qualifies the metaphor by telling the community, You are unleavened. The community does not need to be founded all over again. Their commitment to Christ and their baptismal consecration have made them a holy people, a people already set aside for God. They must therefore become what they are. Eliminating the corrupting influence is the only way to maintain the integrity of their consecration. The reason they are unleavened is that the true paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. At Passover the lambs were sacrificed, and Paul here represents the earliest New Testament claim that in his death and resurrection, Christ is the fulfillment of the Jewish Passover. There is a clear causal connection between their being unleavened and the sacrifice of Jesus, as the connective for indicates. The sacrificing of the lambs in the temple only signaled the time for the Jews to clean out all leaven from their homes; the slaughtered lamb did not cleanse the leaven. But the sacrifice of Jesus the Lamb cast out the leaven and made “a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17), a completely new dough. That is what the Christian community is.

Christians’ Passover week never ends, and that is why there should never be a corrupting influence in their midst at all. Thus they celebrate the feast constantly and should live accordingly, with sincerity and truth. This phrase targets the Corinthians’ sweeping under the rug the corrupting influence of sin in their midst.

© 2011 George T. Montague, SM and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Reflecting on First Corinthians for the Third Sunday of Lent

From First Corinthians by George T. Montague, SM, commenting on First Corinthians 1:22-23:

The tendency of the Jews who opposed the ministry of Jesus and that of Paul (compare Matt 12:3842; Luke 11:2932), was to demand signs, miracles or spectacular deeds of power, and Greeks look for wisdom, something that will captivate but not disturb the cultured mind. Paul here shows his grasp of the psychology of both cultures, which made him an apt instrument for reaching both, but he does so by proclaiming something that goes counter to, because it goes beyond, the natural tastes of each: Christ crucified. Jews indeed looked for a Messiah, but the fact that Jesus died on the cross proved that he was not the glorious liberator they desired. For them, the cross was a stumbling block, an obstacle to faith.

The Greek understanding of time and history was not eschatological: it did not have a conception of a goal toward which history was moving. . . . A founder who stands the world’s values on its head by going to death on a cross–the fate of the criminal dregs of humanity–would indeed have no chance of winning the Greek, even less by claiming that the cross was followed by the resurrection of the body. As for the Jewish critic, the apparent failure of one who claimed to be the Messiah was proof that he was not. That is why it takes a special grace, a divine call, to read in the cross more than stupidity and weakness.

© 2011 George T. Montague, SM and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

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Reflecting on the First Corinthians for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

From First Corinthians by George T. Montague, SM, commenting on First Corinthians 6:18:

The only possible conclusion is to flee fornication. The NAB translation, Avoid immorality, though admissible, loses the strength that Paul intends here: shun, escape from, flee. Porneia may be translated “immorality,” but the context suggests more specifically sexual immorality or fornication. Following Saint Thomas Aquinas, spiritual writers have advised that while other vices call for a tactic of resistance, fornication calls for the tactic of flight, lest passion be enkindled by toying with the occasion. 

© 2011 George T. Montague, SM and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Reflecting on 1 Corinthians for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body

From First Corinthians (Coming September 2011) by George T. Montauge, SM, commenting on 1 Cor.  10:16:

The union effected by the blood and the body of Christ is a participation. This Greek term koinōnia has a richness difficult to express in a single word. The NAB, RSV, and NIV translate it as “participation.” Others translate it “sharing” (NJB, NRSV) or “communion” (JB). In documents contemporary with Paul, koinōnia is a favorite expression for the marital relationship as being the most intimate between human beings. Depending on the structure of the Greek, it can mean union with a person, as Paul has already in this letter spoken of a koinōnia with the Son of God (1:9), or a common sharing in something, such as in the faith (Philem 6), in sufferings (Phil 3:10), or in a work of service (2 Cor 8:4). Both senses converge in the koinōnia of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:13). The term can also stand for the community created by the sharing. All of these senses can be seen in Paul’s use of the word here. The koinōnia of the Eucharist is (1) a common sharing or participation in the body and blood of Christ; (2) an intimate union with the person of Christ; (3) a “community” brought about by the Eucharist, as is be specified in verse 17.

© 2011 George T. Montague and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

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Reflecting on 1 Corinthians for Pentecost Sunday

From First Corinthians (Coming September 2011) by George T. Montauge, SM, commenting on 1 Cor.  12:7:

Manifestation of the Spirit means that the gifts are visible, outward evidences of the work of the Spirit. They are not merely interior graces of prayer. We might think of a crystal-ball chandelier that sparkles as it turns. This kind of manifestation would tell the unbeliever visiting the church that God is truly in their midst (14:24–25). Is given, repeated in verse 8, indicates that the manifestation cannot be attributed to a natural talent, nor does it indicate that the receiver is a holier person who merited the gift. This is quite important because many Christians believe that the charisms are only for canonizable saints. No, they depend on God’s choice and generosity (v. 11). For some benefit (“the common good,” NIV, NRSV; “the general good,” NJB; “for a good purpose,” JB) again means that the purpose of every gift is to build up the church in faith, hope, and love and to empower its outreach.

© 2011 George T. Montague and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

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