GHC Review 23: First Corinthians, A Contemporary Commentary

GHC Review 23; First Corinthians, A Contemporary Commentary 2

First Corinthians, A Contemporary Commentary, by Gordon H. Clark, Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1975, Second Edition 1991, 349 pp.

This is, I believe, the longest of all of all the commentaries Gordon Clark wrote. Throughout the volume Clark regularly presents various interpretations of disputed verses and provides arguments for the views he believes are correct.

Topics commented on in this volume include head coverings (Chapter 11), functional subordination in the Trinity (p. 132), Calvin against mere permission of evil (p. 156-158), the purpose of heresies in God’s plan (p.180), and ethical egoism (p. 164). But the topics in which Clark dedicates the most space include baptism, cessationism, and eschatology.

Regarding 1st Corinthians 7:14 (“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife by the husband; since otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.”) Clark concludes, “It could and more likely would mean that only holy children are baptized, and since the Corinthians baptized them, it is clear that they were already holy. That is to say, baptism makes no one holy; but is a sign that the person, child or adult, is already holy. Therefore, the Corinthian churches, with this knowledge, baptized those infants, and thus everyone knew they were holy.” (p. 107) And he writes, “Thus the correct interpretation is that the conversion of one marriage partner automatically dedicates the whole household to God, and the implication follows that the children should be baptized.” (p. 108)

Also, on 1st Corinthians 10:1-4, he writes the following on the mode of baptism:

“Also interesting is the fact that the Israelites were baptized. Of course, they were baptized into Moses, and not into the Trinity, but there must be some similarity in the two types of baptism. Some Baptists hold that the point of similarity is immersion. At a recent meeting of a theological society, one Baptist argued that the Greek preposition en was always locative and never instrumental. Of course, he was wrong. In this epistle, the instrumental en has already occurred a dozen times. However, consider the locative principle in this verse: they were baptized in the cloud and in the sea as one is immersed in a river or baptistry. This comparison is impossible because the Israelites were never in the cloud locally. The cloud went before them, or it rested over the ark. At night, the cloud went before them, or it rested over the ark. At night the cloud was fire, and this makes a poor comparison with water. Furthermore, the Israelites were never immersed in the seas, as Pharaoh’s soldiers were. The Israelites were never in the sea at all: they passed over dry land (Ex. 14:21-22). The similarity between Moses’s baptism and Christian baptism must be sought in their significance, or in part of it. In both cases, the baptism is a visible sign that the baptized persons are the disciples of him into whose name they are baptized.” (p. 152)

Cessationism is covered on p. 182, p. 200, and much of Chapters 13 and 14. Among this material is a critique of speaking in tongues. Clark’s emphasis is on intelligible propositions and their ability to edify the saints. He writes, “Could Paul have made it any plainer that nonsense does not edify? (p. 230)

Outside of Clark’s Systematic Theology, this commentary has more extensive comments on eschatology than any other of his writings. Chapter 15—corresponding with the 15th chapter of First Corinthians—is nearly all about eschatology. Someone more knowledgable on eschatology than I am could well put together a summary explanation and evaluation of Clark’s view—a limited form of premillennialism.

The 2nd edition cover is shown above. The original looked like this:

GHC Review 23; First Corinthians, A Contemporary Commentary

For the previous review in this series see here.

For the next review in this series see here.


About douglasdouma

I am a husband to beautiful wife, an ordained minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church - Hanover Presbytery, and founder of Sola - Appalachian Christian Retreat ( In addition to blogging at this site I am the author of The Presbyterian Philosopher - The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark (Wipf&Stock, 2017) and compiling editor of Clark and His Correspondents: Selected Letters of Gordon H. Clark (Trinity Foundation, 2017). I have a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering (University of Michigan), a master's in business administration (Wake Forest University) and a master of divinity (Sangre de Cristo Seminary). I'm an avid hiker, having completed a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian trail in 2013 and the first 500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016.
This entry was posted in Gordon Clark Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to GHC Review 23: First Corinthians, A Contemporary Commentary

  1. Pingback: GHC Review 22: Three Types of Religious Philosophy | A Place for Thoughts

  2. Charles Roberts says:

    Thanks for this review Doug! Who published the first edition of the commentary?

  3. Larry Jones says:

    When it comes to eschatology GHC should have listened to his daddy, DSC👍😉…

  4. Pingback: GHC Review 54: Predestination in the Old Testament | A Place for Thoughts

  5. Pingback: GHC Review 24: Predestination in the Old Testament | A Place for Thoughts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s