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1 Corinthians 1

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1 Paul, called as an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God; and Sosthenes, a brother:
2 to the Church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints with all who are invoking the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place of theirs and of ours.
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God continuously for you because of the grace of God that has been given to you in Christ Jesus.
5 By that grace, in all things, you have become wealthy in him, in every word and in all knowledge.
6 And so, the testimony of Christ has been strengthened in you.
7 In this way, nothing is lacking to you in any grace, as you await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
8 And he, too, will strengthen you, even until the end, without guilt, until the day of the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful. Through him, you have been called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
10 And so, I beg you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that every one of you speak in the same way, and that there be no schisms among you. So may you become perfect, with the same mind and with the same judgment.
11 For it has been indicated to me, about you, my brothers, by those who are with Chloes, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now I say this because each of you is saying: "Certainly, I am of Paul;" "But I am of Apollo;" "Truly, I am of Cephas;" as well as: "I am of Christ."
13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I give thanks to God that I have baptized none of you, except Crispus and Gaius,
15 lest anyone say that you have been baptized in my name.
16 And I also baptized the household of Stephanus. Other than these, I do not recall if I baptized any others.
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelize: not through the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ become empty.
18 For the Word of the Cross is certainly foolishness to those who are perishing. But to those who have been saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God.
19 For it has been written: "I will perish the wisdom of the wise, and I will reject the discernment of the prudent."
20 Where are the wise? Where are the scribes? Where are the truth-seekers of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of this world into foolishness?
21 For the world did not know God through wisdom, and so, in the wisdom of God, it pleased God to accomplish the salvation of believers, through the foolishness of our preaching.
22 For the Jews ask for signs, and the Greeks seek wisdom.
23 But we are preaching Christ crucified. Certainly, to the Jews, this is a scandal, and to the Gentiles, this is foolishness.
24 But to those who have been called, Jews as well as Greeks, the Christ is the virtue of God and the wisdom of God.
25 For what is foolishness to God is considered wise by men, and that which is weakness to God is considered strong by men.
26 So take care of your vocation, brothers. For not many are wise according to the flesh, not many are powerful, not many are noble.
27 But God has chosen the foolish of the world, so that he may confound the wise. And God has chosen the weak of the world, so that he may confound the strong.
28 And God has chosen the ignoble and contemptible of the world, those who are nothing, so that he may reduce to nothing those who are something.
29 So then, nothing that is of the flesh should glory in his sight.
30 But you are of him in Christ Jesus, who was made by God to be our wisdom and justice and sanctification and redemption.
31 And so, in the same way, it was written: "Whoever glories, should glory in the Lord."
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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.”