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1 Corinthians 1

Chapter 1
Paul says ‘Hello’
1This letter is from me, Paul. God chose me to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. That is what he wanted. Our Christian friend Sosthenes is with me here as I write to you.
2I am sending this letter to you, the people of God's church in Corinth. God has made you clean because you belong to Christ Jesus. He has chosen you to be his special people. So, you join together with all people everywhere who worship our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is their Lord, as he is our Lord.
3I pray that God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, will continue to help you. I pray that they will give you peace in your minds.
Paul thanks God
4I always thank God because of you. I thank him because he has been very kind to you. He has helped you like that because you belong to Christ Jesus. 5As a result, God has given you all the things that you need. You are able to speak everything that he wants you to speak. You are able to understand everything that he wants you to know. 6In that way, God has shown you that the message we told you about Christ is true. 7As a result, God has given you every spiritual gift that you need. God has blessed you with those gifts as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to return. 8God will also keep you safe and strong until the end. Then, on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns, you will not be guilty of anything wrong. 9God always does what he has promised to do. He has chosen you to be friends with his Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Lord.
Christians must not quarrel
10My Christian friends, I tell you this with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Please agree with each other. Do not become separate groups. Be united and think about things in the same way.’
11Some people from Chloe's house have told me news about you. My friends, they say that you are quarrelling among yourselves. 12It happens like this: One of you says, ‘I belong to Paul's group.’ Another person says, ‘I belong to Apollos' group.’ Another person says, ‘I belong to Peter's group.’ And another person says, ‘I belong to Christ's group.’
13You should not speak like that! It seems like you are breaking Christ into several parts. I, Paul, did not die on a cross to save you. When they baptized you, it was not on my behalf. 14I thank God that I myself did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15So, none of you can say, ‘I belong to Paul's group because he baptized me.’ 16(Now I remember that I also baptized Stephanas and his family. I cannot remember that I baptized anyone else.) 17Christ did not send me to baptize people. But he did send me to tell God's good news to people. When I speak his message, I do not use clever words that show how wise I am. It is Christ's death on the cross that has power to save people. I do not want to spoil that power with clever words.
Christ's death on the cross
18Some people think that the message about Christ's death on the cross is silly. Those are people who are destroying themselves. But it is different for us, the people that God is saving. The message about the cross shows us God's power to save us.
19It says in the Bible:
‘I, God, will destroy all the clever thoughts of wise people.
I will show that their clever ideas are worth nothing.’ #1:19 See Isaiah 29:14.
20So, the wise people in this world are not really important. The clever teachers of God's Law are not really important. People who know how to argue well are not really important. God has shown that the wise ideas that belong to this world have no value.
21God himself is wise. He has decided that people can not know him just because they are wise in their own way. Instead, God uses the message about Jesus to save people. That message may seem to be silly to some people. But when we tell it to people, God saves them if they believe it.
22 Jewish people want to see God do a miracle. Then they will listen. Gentile people want to listen to a message that has clever ideas. 23But as for us, we tell people about how Christ died on a cross. That is a message that Jewish people refuse to accept as true. Gentile people think that it is a silly message. 24But it is different for us whom God has called to come to him. Some of us are Jews, and some of us are Gentiles. For us, Christ shows God's great power. He shows how wise God is. 25Christ's death on a cross may seem a silly thing for God to do. But really it shows that God is very wise. He is wiser than people with their clever ideas. Christ's death on a cross may seem to show that God is weak. But really he is stronger than any human power.
26Christian friends, remember the time when God called you to come to him. Think about what you were like. Not many of you were clever or powerful in the way that people think is good. Not many of you belonged to important families. 27Instead, God chose to use things that people think are silly. He did this so that clever people would be ashamed. Yes, God chose to use things that people think are weak. He did this so that powerful people would be ashamed. 28God chose to use things that people think are useless. People who belong to this world do not like those things. They think that they have no value. God did this so that the things that seem important would become unimportant.
29Because of all this, nobody can be proud of themselves in front of God. 30It is because of God's work that you now belong to Christ Jesus. As a result of Christ's death on the cross, we share in God's wise plan. Because we belong to Christ, God makes us right with himself. He makes us his own special people. He makes us free from the power of sin.
31Remember what is written in the Bible:
‘If you want to be proud about something,
be proud of what the Lord has done.’ #1:31 See Jeremiah 9:24.
1-2I, Paul, have been called and sent by Jesus, the Messiah, according to God’s plan, along with my friend Sosthenes. I send this letter to you in God’s church at Corinth, believers cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life. I include in my greeting all who call out to Jesus, wherever they live. He’s their Master as well as ours!
3May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.
4-6Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.
7-9Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.
The Cross: The Irony of God’s Wisdom
10I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.
11-12I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: You’re all picking sides, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.”
13-16I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.)
17God didn’t send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.
18-21The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,
I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered stupid—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.
22-25While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”
26-31Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”