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1 Corinthians 1

The divine calling
1I Paul was divinely chosen to be the Apostle of Jesus Christ. In my calling the will of God was made manifest, and in this high office and appointment I now address you who are in Corinth, and with me Sosthenes, brother in the faith. 2We speak to you who have also been sharers in this divine calling, whose lives have been enlarged and purified in Christ Jesus, who have received the holiness that comes from faith — and with you in this appeal I associate all who, in whatever place they may be, wherever we may be, do together with us invoke his name, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. 3May grace come to you, may peace abide with you from God, who is the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4Because of the grace that has come to you I feel incessant gratitude to God. 5You have found the riches of the Christ; the word and the knowledge of God are spoken and fulfilled in your midst; 6the witness of the Christ is there; it is unassailable evidence; 7and the full measure of His gifts is counted in you, nothing is wanting for your completion, whilst you wait for that unveiling and revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8Yes, there will be no faltering, no failure in his support of you, till you are made perfect, in the “end,” “the day” of our Lord Jesus Christ, the day of perfect revelation. 9For God, through whom this calling, this share in His son Jesus Christ our Lord has come to you, is faithful in all His ways.
No room for disunity in Christ
10Through this name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I urge you — for that is the secret of his name — to have one mind, one persuasion and precept amongst you, to be all of one mind with one idea. O let schisms and divisions be unknown to you, for your perfection is in unity. 11Strifes there are amongst you, it has come to my knowledge through the members who meet in Chloe's house. 12They tell me some describe themselves as disciples of Paul, others of Apollos, others of Cephas, others of Christ — 13but Christ is not divided. I was not crucified for you, nor were you baptised into my name. 14-15For this very reason I was careful not to baptise disciples personally amongst you. It is to me a cause of gratitude to God that I baptised only Crispus and Gaius, 16and also the household of Stephanas — not another soul, I think, did I baptise, and purposely, that it might not seem that I was making disciples. 17Christ Jesus sent me not to baptise, but to make known the word of joy, not intellectually, not with the persuasive brilliance of personality and personal influence, lest the cross of the Christ should be obliterated and ruled out.
The foolishness of worldly knowledge
18Cleverness, human wisdom, intellectual strength do not accomplish the mighty works of the Gospel. Ours is the word of the cross; it saves us; there is in it the power of God; but to those who are in the power of death and subject to its ever-increasing dominion, this word appears as folly, as an impertinence. 19And so the word of the Bible comes true:— “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, I will make nothing of the intelligence of those who profess to know.” (Isa xxix. 14.) 20Where is the wise, the scribe, the learned investigator of material things? God makes the wisdom of the world foolishness, 21forasmuch as it was in that wisdom that the world lost the knowledge of God, it was by reason of that that its eyes were closed, and lo! the wisdom of God now appearing is proclaimed as a thing foolish in the sight of that old wisdom; but the preaching of this heavenly word saves, it saves all who have faith in it, who accept it spiritually. It does not commend itself to the old thought. 22The Jews demand miracles and signs, the Greeks ask first and last for wisdom, 23but it is the crucified Christ that we preach, and that appears a fool's message to the Greeks, and a scandal to the Jews. 24Think of it! God's power, God's wisdom, the Christ, takes on that semblance in the sight of men. 25But there is more wisdom in God's foolishness than in men's cleverness, more strength in God's weakness than in human power. 26Not many wise, powerful, highly placed are found in our number. 27Why? Because this calling of God is not on the lines of anything which the world sets up as important. 28God would not have anything of the flesh to plume itself on a value of its own. Thus it was that He chose that which was weak, despised, unsupported by birth and tradition, that which in the eyes of the world had no existence at all. 29This He chose and by its means He dismantles all the world's glory, leaving us faith alone. 30For in Christ Jesus your being comes from him, not from the world, and he is your wisdom, your righteousness, your cleansing and your redemption coming to you from God alone, from Him apart from all else, 31in order that as Jeremiah says, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (Jer. ix. 24.) By that saying the prophet referred to the distinction between the talents and qualities that are believed to belong to the flesh and the personal self, and the grace and power that flow from the Spirit only.
Paul’s Greeting
1From Paul, divinely appointed according to the plan of God, to be an apostle of the Anointed One, Jesus. Our fellow believer Sosthenes # 1:1 Sosthenes means “savior of his nation.” He was the Jewish synagogue ruler in Corinth who had converted to Christ and had been beaten for his faith (Acts 18:12–17). joins me 2in writing you this letter addressed to the community of God # 1:2 Or “church.” This is the Greek word ekklēsia, which means “a summoned people, called to assemble, a legislative body.” It is also a word used in Greek culture to “assemble an army.” throughout the city of Corinth. For you have been made pure, set apart in the Anointed One, Jesus. And God has invited you to be his devoted and holy people, and not only you, but everyone everywhere who calls on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord, and ours also.
3May joyous grace # 1:3 The Greek word charis, in its original sense, is descriptive of that which brings pleasure and joy to the human heart, implying a strong emotional element. God’s grace includes favor and supernatural potency, and it is meant to leave us both charming and beautiful. In classical Greek it was meant to convey the attitude of favor shown by royalty. See Torrance, The Doctrine of Grace in the Apostolic Fathers, pp. 1–5. and endless peace be yours continually from our Father God and from our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!
Made Wonderfully Rich
4I am always thanking my God for you because he has given you such free and open access to his grace through your union with Jesus, the Messiah. 5In him you have been made extravagantly rich in every way. You have been endowed with a wealth of inspired utterance # 1:5 Or “in every kind of speaking.” By implication, Paul is commending them for their speaking gifts (prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues, preaching, and teaching the word of God). This will be developed further in chs. 12–14. and the riches that come from your intimate knowledge of him. 6For the reality of the truth of Christ is seen among you and strengthened # 1:6 Or “validated” or “confirmed.” The word used here is found in classical Greek in the context of establishing (building) communities. through your experience of him. 7So now you aren’t lacking any spiritual gift # 1:7 Or “You don’t fail to receive any gift of the Holy Spirit.” God wants his church to receive every gift the Holy Spirit has to give us. This may be a figure of speech called a litotes, which means it could also be translated, “You have every spiritual gift.” as you eagerly await the unveiling # 1:7 Or “eagerly accept” or “eagerly await.” The Greek word ekdechomai is a compound word, ek (out of, from) and dechomai (to accept or receive or take hold of). of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. 8He will keep you steady and strong to the very end, making your character mature so that you will be found innocent on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is forever faithful and can be trusted to do this in you, for he has invited you to co-share the life of his Son, # 1:9 Or “a life of communion with his Son.” That is, a co-participation (communion, fellowship) of the Son. The Aramaic can be translated “You have been called to the (wedding) feast of his Son.” We see a clear picture here that believers are called to share in the sonship of Jesus. By God’s grace, we will share in the Son’s standing and position before the Father. We are not only blameless but made holy by the co-sharing of the life of God’s Son. Jesus, the Anointed One, our King! # 1:9 Or “Lord.”
Paul Addresses Divisions in the Church
10I urge you, my brothers and sisters, for the sake of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree to live in unity with one another # 1:10 Or “that you all speak the same thing”; that is, to have a united testimony. The Aramaic can be translated “that you may all be of one word.” and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart. # 1:10 The congregation of believers in Corinth was sorely divided. They had divided over which leader or apostle they followed (chs. 1–3), over the limits of their freedom (chs. 6–8), over their socio-economic status (ch. 11), and over spiritual gifts (chs. 12–14). Division among believers grossly hinders our message and ministry to the world of unbelievers. Paul is pleading with them to unite around the love of God for one another (ch. 13). Be restored # 1:10 Or “fully equipped.” as one united body living in perfect harmony. Form a consistent choreography among yourselves, having a common perspective with shared values.
11My dear brothers and sisters, I have a serious concern I need to bring up with you, # 1:11 Before Paul brought correction to the Corinthians, he first affirmed the work of God in their midst. See vv. 4–9. Perhaps we should look at confused and messed-up Christians differently and speak to how God sees imperfect believers. for I have been informed by those of Chloe’s house church # 1:11 Or “Chloe’s people.” The word household or family is not in the Greek text. By implication, it refers to those who are meeting with Chloe, as the one they are connected to (Chloe’s people; i.e., house church, or Chloe’s congregation). She was obviously a trusted leader in Paul’s estimation and had influence in the church of Corinth. Her name means “green [tender] sprout.” Those who informed Paul of the problems in Corinth may have been Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, mentioned in 1 Cor. 16:17. that you have been destructively arguing among yourselves. 12And I need to bring this up because each of you is claiming loyalty to different preachers. Some are saying, “I am a disciple of Paul,” or, “I follow Apollos,” or, “I am a disciple of Peter the Rock,” # 1:12 Or “Cephas,” the Aramaic word for rock (keefa) transliterated into Greek. Paul is comfortable in calling Peter by his Aramaic nickname, Keefa. and some, “I belong only to Christ.” 13But let me ask you, is Christ divided up into groups? Did I die on the cross for you? At your baptism did you pledge yourselves to follow Paul? # 1:13 Or “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
14Thank God I only baptized two from Corinth—Crispus and Gaius! # 1:14 Before converting to faith in Christ, Crispus was likely the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth mentioned in Acts 18:18. Gaius was most likely the one who hosted Paul when he came to Rome (Rom. 16:23). Since they had become believers before Paul’s assistants, Timothy and Silas, arrived from Macedonia, Paul went ahead and baptized them. 15So now no one can say that in my name I baptized others. # 1:15 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “so that no one can say that they were baptized in my name.” 16(Yes, I also baptized Stephanus and his family. Other than that, I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) 17For the Anointed One has sent me on a mission, not to see how many I could baptize, # 1:17 In the broader context of Paul’s teaching, both baptism and the Lord’s Table proclaim the Lord Jesus (Rom. 6:3–11; 1 Cor. 11:24–27). Therefore, viewing Paul’s statement as somewhat hyperbolic, it is taken to mean that he was not sent just to baptize but also to preach the gospel. but to proclaim the good news. And I declare this message stripped of all philosophical arguments that empty the cross of its true power. For I trust in the all-sufficient cross of Christ alone.
The True Power of the Cross
18To preach the message # 1:18 Or “expression [Gr. logos]” or “the act of proclaiming.” of the cross seems like sheer nonsense to those who are on their way to destruction, but to us who are being saved, it is the mighty power of God released within us. # 1:18 The “message of the cross” becomes the ignition point where God’s power becomes operative and actualized with the ability to convert, transform, and save. The Aramaic can be translated “For he [rather than the message] is the power of God.” 19For it is written:
I will dismantle the wisdom of the wise
and I will invalidate the intelligence of the scholars. # 1:19 See Isa. 29:14 (LXX). Paul uses the prophecy of Isaiah as a warning against leaning upon human wisdom to understand spiritual matters. True wisdom comes from above and is given by divine revelation to those who are teachable and humble before God.
20So where is the wise philosopher who understands? Where is the expert scholar who comprehends? And where is the skilled debater of our time who could win a debate with God? Hasn’t God demonstrated that the wisdom of this world system is utter foolishness?
21For in his wisdom, God designed that all the world’s wisdom would be insufficient to lead people to the discovery of himself. He took great delight in baffling the wisdom of the world by using the simplicity of preaching the story of the cross # 1:21 Or simply “the foolishness of preaching.” However, it is not the act of preaching but the content of what is preached that brings salvation to those who believe. in order to save those who believe it. 22For the Jews constantly demand to see miraculous signs, while those who are not Jews # 1:22 The Aramaic uses the term Arameans for gentiles. It means “Aramaic-speaking people.” constantly cling to the world’s wisdom, # 1:22 To paraphrase, the gentiles seek for success in the world’s eyes, or a wisdom that leads them to succeed. Christ crucified is both a miracle sign and the wisdom that will lead one to reign in life. 23but we preach the crucified Messiah. The Jews stumble over him and the rest of the world sees him as foolishness. 24But for those who have been chosen to follow him, both Jews and Greeks, he is God’s mighty power, God’s true wisdom, and our Messiah. # 1:24 Christ is the supreme manifestation of God’s power to save us from sin, to work miracles, and to defeat evil. Christ is the supreme manifestation of wisdom, for he carries out the eternal plan of God and brings it to completion. 25For the “foolish” things of God have proven to be wiser than human wisdom. And the “feeble” things of God have proven to be far more powerful than any human ability. # 1:25 Although the cross seemed to be the foolishness of God, it reveals his transcendent wisdom. And though God the Son was crucified in weakness, he has risen through the divine power that transforms lives today. God has no weakness or foolishness whatsoever. Yet what looks like weakness is actually his strength, and what looks like foolishness is actually his wisdom.
God’s Calling
26Brothers and sisters, consider who you were when God called you to salvation. Not many of you were wise scholars by human standards, nor were many of you in positions of power. Not many of you were considered the elite when you answered God’s call. 27But God chose those whom the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise, and God chose the puny and powerless to shame # 1:27 The Greek word kataischyunō can also be translated “embarrass,” “confuse,” “baffle,” or “frustrate.” the high and mighty. 28He chose the lowly, the laughable # 1:28 Or “despised,” “disgusting,” “outcasts,” “perceived with contempt.” in the world’s eyes—nobodies—so that he would shame the somebodies. For he chose what is regarded as insignificant in order to supersede what is regarded as prominent, 29so that there would be no place for prideful boasting in God’s presence. 30For it is not from man that we draw our life but from God as we are being joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. And now he is our God-given wisdom, our virtue, our holiness, and our redemption. 31And this fulfills what is written:
If anyone boasts, let him only boast
in all that the Lord has done! # 1:31 Or “He who triumphs, let him triumph in the Lord God!” See Jer. 9:24.