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" ́ blepete , is 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" ( ̀ ͂ tēn klēsin ) means "those who are called" I 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 I 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 - ̓͂ 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 I Corinthians 1:29. The character of many of those who composed the church at Corinth before the conversion, is stated in I Corinthians 6:10-11, which see.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing 1 Corinthians 1:26:
1 Corinthians 1:10
1 Corinthians 2:6
1 Corinthians 7:18
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