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I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER ONE:
I. Salutation: 1:1-3
II. Thanksgiving: 1:4-9
III. A Divided Church: 1:10-17
IV. Divine Wisdom and Human Wisdom: 1:18-31
II. COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER ONE:
1Co_1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
'Almost all letters from the Greco-Roman period begin with a threefold saluation: Name of the Writer, to the Addressee, Greetings.' [Note: _ The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Gordon D. Fee p. 27]
'The phrases which open the epistles of Paul are of deep import. It is true that they follow the forms with which, in his day, letters usually were begun. Yet they never are empty formulas .' [Note: _ The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. Charles R. Erdman p. 21]
'called to be an apostle' -'apostle of Jesus Christ by God's call and by God's will' (NEB) 'not..by merit or human choice, but called...through an express intervention of the Divine will.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 757)
Apparently some in Corinth were questioning Paul's apostleship. ( 1Co_9:1 ; 2Co_11:4-5 ; 2Co_12:11-13 )
'To a church which would often call his apostleship in question, Paul speaks of himself as a "called apostle"...An authorized witness of the resurrected Lord. Commissioned by and on behalf of the Lord who called him..But for all their doubts, he had none and so he claims the place God gave him without a hint of embarrassment.' [Note: _ The Book of First Corinthians. Jim McGuiggan p. 17] ( Gal_1:1 )
'through the will of God' -( 2Co_1:1 ) 'Paul was not an apostle because he usurped the postion but because God willed him to be an apostle.' [Note: _ A Commentary on Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians. Mike Willis p. 4] ( Act_9:15-16 )
'Paul's call was not produced by a set of fortuitous circumstances. Not accidently or in a temporal and a passing manner was Paul called. Nor did he grow into the call by a kind of evolution or spiritual development on his part.' [Note: _ Lenski p. 20]
Paul claimed that God's will for him to be an apostle had went all the way back to his birth ( Gal_1:15-16 ). And yet, Paul still had a choice in this call. ( Act_26:19 'I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision'), this implies that he might or could have disobeyed and set his will against that of God. Man can resist a direct call from God, as seen in the case of Pharaoh ( Rom_9:15 ) and Solomon. ( 1Ki_11:9-10 )
'and Sosthenes our brother' -(SOS thuh knees). He was a brother to both Paul and the Corinthians. 'Paul generally included in his salutations those who were working with him and who were known to the congregation to whom he was writing. ( 2Co_1:1 ; Php_1:1 ; Col_1:1 ; 1Th_1:1 ; 2Th_1:1 ) ' [Note: _ Willis p. 6]
Many speculate that this is the same Sosthenes mentioned in Act_18:17 , who is called the leader of the synagogue and who had stirred up the Jews to bring Paul before Gallio. If this is true, then this verse reveals a amazing, yet unrecorded case of conversion 'What a triumph of the gospel would be recorded when Paul, in essence, said, "the Sosthenes who stirred up the Jews against me in your own town of Corinth is now a Christian and working with me, the very one he sought to persecute, here in Ephesus.' [Note: _ Willis p. 5] And yet we need to realize that the name was a very common name.
1Co_1:2 unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours:
'church of God' -the Church belongs to God. ( Act_20:28 ; Mat_16:18 )
'which is at Corinth' -'This church had been extended even to Corinth. That is the wonder. Even in that pagan city, amid its pride, its impurity, its absorbing rush for pleasure and for wealth, a brotherhood of believers had come into being; and never on earth has a place been found so degraded, so depraved, so morally hopeless, that the church of God cannot be established there.' [Note: _ Erdman p. 23]
Point to Note:
'Commentators usually remark concerning this verse that the people in Corinth were still styled the church regardless of the immoralities, divisions, problems of worship, etc. which existed among them. Then the point is made that we can be the church even while we are in doctrinal and moral apostasy. Such comments overlook the fact that these very conditions were what prompted Paul to write this letter in which he was striving to persaude the Corinthians to correct these sins. He wrote to them commanding them to get rid of the wickedness which was in them or else, when he came, he would not spare them ( 2Co_13:2 ; 1Co_4:21 ). Paul did not close his eyes to the problems at Corinth ; he sought to correct them.' [Note: _ Willis pp. 6-7]
The same situation is true concerning what Jesus said to some of the congregations mentioned in the book of Revelation. ( Revelation 2:5; 14-16; 20-23; 3:3;15-19 )
At the same time, we need to note that Paul was not willing (nor was Jesus) to bury a congregation in a hurry. 'I am suggesting that when people go off half-cocked and wish to bury an assembly in a hurry you can rest assured there is little or no committment to that assembly.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 18] Even a factious man was to be given the opportunity of two warnings. ( Tit_3:10 ) Paul isn't tolerating sin, but he is giving people the opportunity to repent.
'even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus' -these are the individuals that compose the Church. The Church is composed of 'sanctified people', i.e. people that have come into contact with the blood of Christ. ( Heb_10:29 ; Act_20:28 ) The Church is composed of those 'in Christ Jesus', which infers that entrance into the Church of God involves faith and baptism. ( Gal_3:26-27 ; Rom_6:3 ) This agrees with Act_2:38 ; Act_2:41 ; Act_2:47 .
'called to be saints' -'Sainthood is not something which one attains years after he is dead; sainthood is something which belongs to every Christian. Sainthood is not something one attains because of his superior morals (just look at the people Paul calls 'saints' in this letter), although saints must exhibit purity in morals; sainthood is bestowed upon us by God on the basis of Christ having washed away our sins.' [Note: _ Willis p. 10]
'Saints' -'The word is "hagios"..the word..describes a thing or a person which has been devoted to the possession and service of God..Now if a person has been marked out as specially belonging to God he must show himself to be fit in life and character for that service. That is how "hagios" comes to mean "holy". But the root idea of the word is separation...When Paul calls the Christian "hagios" (saints) he means that the Christian is a man who is different from other men BECAUSE he specially belongs to God and to the service of God.' [Note: _ The Letters to the Corinthians. William Barclay p. 11]
'The repeated ref., to the holiness of the readers recalls them to their vocation; low practice calls for the reassertion of high ideals.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 758)
Point to Note:
Sanctification is not a process that operates against our will. These Corinthians were sanctified (6:11), but they still needed much improvement. The blood of Christ separates us from our past sins, but we must continue to cooperate in setting ourselves apart from present and future sin. ( 2Co_7:1 ; Heb_12:14 )
Some Christians fail to realize, that being set apart for the service of God, brings a great obligation to live like a person who has been delivered from the bondage of sin. ( Rom_12:1-2 ; 1Pe_2:9-10 ) And God takes a dim view of those who are unappreciative for such deliverance. ( 2Pe_2:20-22 ; Jud_1:5 )
'with all' -Paul isn't writing this letter to Christians in every place (though it truths apply to them also), neither are all Christians joining Paul in writing to the Corinthians.
Fee suggests that this phrase is intended to remind the Corinthians that they composed a universal church, a body of believers that they seem to have struck an independent course from. (4:17; 11:16; 14:33,36)
'in every place' -the universal nature of the Church. ( Mat_28:19-20 )
'their Lord and ours' -'I'm sure you've noticed in your reading of the first nine verses that Jesus is called "Lord" again and again. Mentioned give times and implied a sixth. Here again this quote from Morris: "The ideal of the Corinthian was the reckless development of the individual. The merchant..the man of pleasure..the athlete..are the true Corinthian types; in a word, the man who recognized no superior and no law but his own desires." Now, does this not suggest a reason for Paul's stress on the Lordship of Jesus?' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 19] ( 1Co_8:6 ; Rom_10:12 ; Rom_14:9 ; Eph_4:5 )
1Co_1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co_1:4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus;
'I thank my God always concerning you' -'The Corinthians had broken his heart, caused him great pain, despised his appearance and speech, doubted his apostleship; but he thanks God concerning them. Where did this spirit go? With the buffalo, it would seem. And he always thanked God concerning them. He meant it. He knew about their shortcomings and he rebukes them when necessary. But he still thanked God for them. Do you have children? parents? family? friends? Are you aware of failings in their lives? Does the fact that they having failings prevent you from thanking God for them?..Where love is absent we have the "kingdom of the gripes".' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 20]
'always' -a regular habit with Paul ( 1Th_1:2 ; 1Th_2:13 ; 2Th_1:3 ; 2Th_2:13 ; Rom_1:8 ; Col_1:3 ; Php_1:3 ; Phm_1:4 ).
'for' -the reason for his gratitude. 'By reason of' (Rhm)
'the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus' -
Points to Note:
1. "Grace" here may refer to both the grace bestowed at conversion, and the spiritual gifts that followed (1:5).
'Commonly this is viewed as a thanksgiving for grace as such, i.e., the gracious outpouring of God's mercy in Christ Jesus toward the undeserving. However, for Paul charis ("grace") very often is closely associated with..("gift/gifts") (i.e. spiritual gifts)' [Note: _ Fee p. 37]
2. "Grace" is only available in Christ Jesus. ( Eph_1:3 )
3. 'Paul's thanksgiving centers upon God's gifts to the Corinthians rather than on their own moral achievements..The Corinthian church did not cease to be an object of Paul's thoughts and prayers when he left them. ( 2Co_11:28 )' [Note: _ Willis pp. 13-14]
1Co_1:5 that in everything ye were enriched in him, in all utterance and all knowledge;
'that' -'I mean, that in everything' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 759)
'everything' -'God had withheld nothing from them.' (Lenski p. 31) 'So abundant was the grace thus granted that the Corinthian Christians lacked none of the spiritual gifts needed to sustain them in their life and work.' [Note: _ Erdman p. 25]
'ye were enriched in him' -'It suggests that formerly the Corinthians were poor spiritually, yea utterly destitute, but that this has now been wondrously changed--they have come into great spiritual wealth.' (Lenski p. 31)
'To a body of Christians composed of "not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble" (1:26, i.e. the lower classes of society), Paul said, "You are enriched by Him." ( 2Co_8:9 )' [Note: _ Willis p. 16]
'in all utterance' -'Paul next enumberates specifically the "graces" for which he is giving thanks.' [Note: _ Fee p. 38] 'Eloquence--the ability to express their knowledge.' [Note: _ The New Century Bible Commentary I & II Corinthians. F.F. Bruce p. 31] 'With full power of expression' (Ber); 'full power to speak of your faith' (Mof) 'The specific thing referred to might to the gifts of tongue speaking, the preaching of God's word by men of outstanding ability (such as Apollos), exhorters, etc...indicates that they were amply blessed with qualified speakers of God's word. (To perceive how richly blessed the Corinthians were with speakers, note the subsequent disorders that arose from several wanting to speak at one time in their assemblies as referred to in ch. 14.)' [Note: _ Willis p. 16]
'all knowledge' -'full insight into its meaning' (Mof). They were blessed with an abundance of prophets (14:29). 'Thus, the Corinthians were blessed with prophets, discerners of spirits, men who possessed the gift of (supernatural) knowledge, etc. The church was richly blessed with men who could communicate God's revelation and with men who understood it.' [Note: _ Willis pp. 16-17]
Points to Note:
1. The problems at Corinth weren't caused by ignorance or lack of revelation. The answer to their problems wasn't a complete New Testament. This congregation was blessed with immense talent, they had access to all the right answers, they heard excellent sermons. Their problems were caused by such things as immaturity, pride, lust, bitterness, resentment, envy and jealousy.
2. This letter should warn us. The most blessed and talented of congregations can be destroyed when it's talented members start becoming selfish and self-centered.
3. 'A violent wicked city, a corrupt and decadent populace, a brawling and bitter community and God sought it's redemption. And God poured out on its former homosexuals and idolaters the multiplied gifts bought for them by Jesus Christ. They had only earned wrath but God had showered on them the blessings of Jesus. How pleased Paul is with God for being so gracious as to enrich these improverished lives. In Paul's experience God had shown himself, over and over again, an inexpressibly generous Lord.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 20]
1Co_1:6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
'testimony of Christ' -'concerning Christ' (NASV), i.e. the gospel message.
'confirmed in you' -side ref., or "among you". (NASV)
'confirmed' -950. bebaioo beb-ah-yo'-o; from 949; to stabilitate (figuratively): -confirm, (e-)stablish.
'The truth of the gospel was corroborated by their receiving these spiritual gifts. ( Heb_2:3-4 )' [Note: _ F.F. Bruce p. 31] Miracles had accompanied Paul's preaching to them ( 1Th_1:5 ); and spiritual gifts were still manifest among them ( Gal_3:5 ). All of this simply confirmed the truthfulness of the gospel message. ( Mar_16:17-20 )
1Co_1:7 so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ;
'so that' -'causing that' (McGarvey p. 51) The result of the enrichment just described.
'ye come behind in no gift' -'No church excelled the Cor. in the variety of its endowments and the satisfaction felt in them. Chapters 12-14 enumerate and discuss the chief Corinthians setting, in their midst.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 760) 'And thus there is no gift in which you are deficient.' (TCNT) This is just another way of saying, 'ye were enriched in everything'. ( 1Co_4:7-8 )
'The Message of Christ came to Corinth and when it arrived it was established among them to a remarkable degree. Perhaps their environment required a remarkable confirmation.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 21]
'waiting' -553. apekdechomai ap-ek-dekh'-om-ahee; from 575 and 1551; to expect fully: -look (wait) foreign
'for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ' -i.e. the second coming. This event is to be the focus for the Christian. ( 1Jn_3:3 ; Rom_8:23 'eagerly awaiting', 25)
1Co_1:8 who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unreproveable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
'confirm you unto the end' -'The believer will never be deserted by Jesus Christ. He will confirm the believer right to the end. A believer can prove faithless ( 2Ti_2:12-13 )..The self-sufficient Corinthians are being reminded again of their utter dependence on Jesus.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 21]
'It may be asked, "Does..Paul here teach that none of the Corinthians would fall away from grace?" Certainly not, as the teaching of 9:27 and 10:1-13 will show. But, like all good teachers, ..Paul deals with one thing at a time. When in ch. 10 he is warning his converts of the danger of falling away, he does not spoil the effect of his words by any reference to the sustaining power of God. It is enough to say that God will not suffer them to be tempted beyond their strength. Here, on the other hand..Paul does not guard his teaching as to God's faithfulness, by pointing out how that faithfulness may be made of none effect by persistent refusal to obey.' [Note: _ H.L. Goudge, The First Epistle to the Corinthians p. 5]
'unreprovable' -'blameless' (NASV). The Corinthians could only stand 'blameless' at the judgement, if they were forgiven of their sins. ( 1Jn_1:8-10 ; Rom_4:6-8 ) Therefore, an unrepentant attitude will surely result in your condemnation. ( Rom_2:4-5 )
1Co_1:9 God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
'God is faithful' -Which demands that we can always DEPEND on God acting in the way He said He will act (as detailed in His word). If God acts any way contrary to the Bible, then God is "unfaithful"! God will forgive our sins, when we repent ( 1Jn_1:9 ). Hence the only thing standing between us and eternal life, us and "being blameless" at the judgement, is our human pride. ( 1Th_5:24 ; 1Co_10:13 ; Rom_8:36 ; Php_1:16 )
'called' -by the gospel ( 2Th_2:14 )
'into the fellowship of his Son' -Maybe we don't realize what this statement really means. When I become a Christian, I become part of God's family ( Gal_3:26 ). Jesus embraces me as a fellow 'son', as a younger brother or sister ( Heb_2:11 ).
CONDEMNATION OF PARTY STRIFE: 1:10-17
1Co_1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
'beseech' -'exhort' (NASV). 'does not mean "I beg", but rather "I call upon you, I summon you, I admonish you." This word is tactful and brotherly, and yet Paul is not forgetting that he writes as an apostle of Jesus Christ (1:1). The authority he would exercise is the same whether it speaks softly or finds itself compelled to speak sternly.' (Lenski p. 38)
'brethren' -'The apostle does not forget that, though guilty of promoting separations, all of the body are brethren. In using this word, Paul is appealing to their better senses; the Corinthians recognize that they are all born again of the same Father. Why, then, should they be divided?' [Note: _ Willis pp. 25-26]
'through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ' -'the name of Christ indicates all that Christ is known to be, as Saviour and Master and Lord.' (Erdman p. 28) 'By all that the Lord Jesus means to you.' (Phi) 'A voice of authority, enforced by threatened judgement ( 1Co_4:21 )..thus emphasizing its virtue before he uses it as the symbol of supreme authority: as Chrysostom says, "he nails them to this name."' (McGarvey p. 52)
'This name, this solitary name would stand in contrast to all the party names. This is the only name under heaven and among men that carries redemption in it ( Act_4:10 ).' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 28]
Christ was certainly against such divisions. ( Joh_17:20-23 )
'that ye all speak the same thing' -'to agree in what you profess' (TCNT) In contrast to what they were saying in 1:12. 'To present a united front' (Barclay p. 15)
'divisions' -4978. schisma skhis'-mah; from 4977; a split or gap ("schism"), literally or figuratively: -division, rent, schism. 'Split up into parties' (Phi)
'The word he uses to describe them..is the word for rents in a garment. The Corinthian Church is in danger of becoming as unsightly as a torn garment.' (Barclay pp. 15-16)
'perfected' -2675. katartizo kat-ar-tid'-zo; from 2596 and a derivative of 739; to complete thoroughly, i.e. repair (literally or figuratively) or adjust: -fit, frame, mend, (make) perfect(-ly join together), prepare, restore.
A word used for the mending of torn fishing nets ( Mat_4:21 ; Mar_1:19 ). 'But that you be well and surely adjusted.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 763)
'Twentieth century Christians have been exposed to a divided Christianity so long that they not only accept it but also praise it. Some see virtues arising out of denominationalism (e.g., competition in evangelizing, a religious group fitted to every man, etc.). God does not appreciate rifts in Christianity anymore today than He did in 58 A.D. The church must never forget that preserving and restoring the unity of the body of Christ is still a part of its divine mission.' [Note: _ Willis pp. 27-28]
'mind' -'unity of right understanding' (Lenski p. 40). 'Disposition..or way of thinking' (Fee p. 53)
'Judgement' -that which is the outcome of "mind" (frame of mind, state of mind), judgement, opinion, sentiment. (Robertson pp. 72-73) 'Being in the same realm of thought, they would judge questions from the same Christian stand-point, and formulate their judgement accordingly.' [Note: _ Vincent p. 188]
Point to Note:
When one reads these verses, the question always arises to what extent must Christians agree? Romans Chapter 14 certainly reveals an area of opinion, a realm of morally neutral issues in which allows Christians to have differing practices and responses to the same subject. In his commentary, McGuiggan agrues that this verse applies to "fundamental truths", he then says, 'And what are fundamental truths? They are those the Bible links explicity or clearly implicitly with such categories as remission of sins, salvation, union with Christ, eternal life, forgiveness, justification, redemption, propitiation, washing away of sins, reconciliation, and the like..' (pp. 29-30)
The Apostle John declared that we cannot have fellowship or unity with any teaching that is in conflict with what Christ taught ( 2Jn_1:9-11 ). Paul agreed ( Gal_1:6-9 ) These verses suggest that the "basis" of unity is the word of God. Hence involved in this "same mind", is to accept the word of God as the final authority in settling religious questions. ( 1Co_14:37 )
1Co_1:11 For it hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them that are of the household of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
'signified' -'I have been informed'. (NASV) 'Implies definite information, the disclosure of facts.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 763)
'by them that are of the household of Chloe' -'Chloe's people' (NASV) Neither household slaves or members of her family. ( Rom_16:10 ) 'Children, companions, or possibly slaves.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 763)
'Chloe' -(KLOH ee)
'It may have been tough on those who brought the report to be named in this way; but Paul laid it right out there. And he doesn't accuse them of gossip. So it is possible to speak of the misconduct of others without indulging in gossip.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 28]
'contentions' -'quarrels' (NASV). Unseemingly wranglings (as opposed to discussing) that were leading to the divisions. Listed in the works of the flesh ( Gal_5:19 ) and catalogues of vices ( 2Co_12:20 ; Rom_1:19 f; 1Ti_6:4 )' (Robertson p. 73)
Point to Note:
The Corinthian church had sent a letter to Paul (7:1), but apparently that letter hadn't mentioned the "divisions". He had learned about their divisions from either insiders or outsiders. Fee takes this to mean, that the letter sent to Paul (7:1), wasn't a letter asking Paul's advice about certain topics, but rather, a letter than was against the positions that Paul preached. 'The very nature of their slogans (1:12), including the existence of those who "follow Paul"--but without his blessing--implies that such a community would scarely be asking him to arbitrate their internal differences. Rather, the community in general (or many within the community) stands over against its apostle on those various issues.' [Note: _ Fee p. 55]
1Co_1:12 Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
'Now this I mean' -defining the divisions of 1:10-11.
'each one of you saith' -indicating that the vast majority in the Corinthian Church were involved.
'I am of' -'I belong to' (RSV); 'I am a follower of' (Gspd); 'Paul certainly is my leader' (Ber); 'I am Paul's person'. (Fee)
'Apollos' -had preached here after Paul's departure ( Act_18:27 ; 1Co_16:12 )
'Cephas' -the Aramaic name given Simon by Jesus ( Joh_1:42 )
Points to Note:
1. We must realize that Paul, Peter and Apollos had nothing to do with this division. They all preached the same gospel ( Gal_1:9 ; Gal_2:1-10 ; Act_15:7-12 ). There existed no rift between any of them. ( 1Co_16:12 ; 2Pe_3:15-16 "our beloved brother Paul")
'It is to be noted that the great figures of the Church who are named.. had nothing to do with these divisions. There were no dissensions between them. Without their knowledge and without their consent their names had been appropriated by these Corinthian factions. It not infrequently happens that a man's so-called supporters are a bigger problem than his open enemies.' [Note: _ Barclay p. 16]
'The views of many commentators which describe Peter as preaching for Judasitic faction, Apollos as preaching a doctrine of philosophy and Alexandrian fanciful interpretations, and Paul as preaching a universal gospel conflicts with the facts. One must not forget that Peter was the first to preach to the Gentiles ( Act_10:1-48 ) and that Apollos was mighty in the Scriptures ( Act_18:24-28 ). Furthermore, the position which puts these men as leaders of different, warring parties would destroy what Paul said in 1Co_3:4-9 . The problem was one caused by the Corinthians and not by the different preachers.' [Note: _ Willis p. 32]
2. The Corinthians were childish (3:1ff). They had to have their own "gang". There had to be someone or something which "belongs to us".
3. They were affected by their environment. On every corner there was a school of someone or other. They had become accustomed to picking and choosing between philosophers or gurus. When they came into the Body of Christ they brought their background with them. [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 30]
'The Corinthians had been used to witnessing itinerant philosophers come and go in their cities, who built up small bands of students who adopted and propagated their views. They had simply viewed the gospel as a new type of wisdom philosophy and the preachers as competitive philosophers.' [Note: _ Willis p. 31]
4. Considering the line of reasoning in Chapter 3:1-10, where Paul narrows down the issue between just the "Paul party" and the "Apollos party". We could infer that the "Peter party" was very small in Corinth.
'and I of Christ' -has generated quite a bit of discussion among commentators. The best suggestions seem to be:
a. Some have viewed this phrase as Paul's own response. 'and I (Paul, in contrast to your following men) a follower of Christ'. 'But I belong to Christ' (Barclay p. 17)
b. It could of described a group that properly used the right designation, but with the wrong motives. 'Their real fault was not in saying that they belonged to Christ, but in acting as if Christ belonged to them. It may well describe a little, intolerant, self-righteous group.' (Barclay p. 17) 'Here are some people who form no distinct group at all, but who in their own attempt to rise above the rest...have fallen into their own brand of spiritual elitism that makes them no better than the others.' (Fee p. 59)
1Co_1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul?
'Is Christ divided?' -'Is there more than one Christ?' (Phi) 'Divided: so portioned up that one party may claim Him more than another.' (Vincent p. 190) 'Christ' here may also stand for the body of Christ. ( 1Co_12:12 ) Such groups are dividing the church. This may be a response to the last group mentioned, 'Absurd! Can Christ be made a party in the same breath as the others? or Do you mean to say that Christ has been apportioned out so that only one group has him?' (Fee p. 60)
'was Paul crucified for you?' -Tactfully Paul chooses to use his own name, and yet the same line of reasoning would apply to any name-Apollos, Peter, Luther, etc..
'Call yourself a Paulite? Why, that would require that Paul was crucified for you! That would require that you were immersed into the name of Paul. Would anyone have been fool enough to believe or practice that?' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 30]
'If Christians remember who died for them, and to whom they belong, they will be slow to say that they belong to Paul...' (Erdman p. 30)
Points to Note:
1. Paul gives us a good test. Your religious? What do you call yourself? Did it die for you?
2. Now, if God condemned the religious sects based on the names of Apostles (inspired men), how much more is He against all other names? Was a 'Method' crucified for you? Was 'Luther'? Was the 'Presyberty'? Was 'Baptism'? Was the 'Seventh Day'? Was 'Moroni'?
Martin Luther said, 'In the first place, I pray you to leave my name alone, and not to call yourselves Lutherans but Christians. Who is Luther? My doctrine is not mine! I have not been crucified for any one. St. Paul..would not that any one should call themselves of Paul, nor of Peter, but of Christ. How then does it befit me, a miserable bag of dust and ashes, to give my name to the children of Christ. Cease, my dear friends, to cling to the party names and distinctions; away with them all; and let us call ourselves only Christians, after him from whom our doctrine comes.' [Note: _ M. Michelet, The Life of Martin Luther. p. 262]
1Co_1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, save Crispus and Gaius;
1Co_1:15 lest any man should say that ye were baptized into my name.
This may have been a deliberate practice on Paul's part. He may have purposely had others (like Timothy and Silas) do the bulk of the baptizing. 'Had he immersed a lot of the Corinthians, he says, some might have claimed he was making Paulites by immersing them into his own name.' (McGuiggan p. 31)
1Co_1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
'I know not whether' -'It's nice to know that one so brilliant forgets some things.' (McGuiggan p. 31)
1Co_1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.
'For Christ sent me not to baptize' -this phrase has been used as proof that baptism isn't necessary for salvation.
Points to Note:
1. If Paul didn't believe in the necessity of baptism, then why did he baptize people? (1:14,16) If baptism wasn't important, then Paul should of said, 'I thank God that I never demand baptism of any believer'.
'If Christ didn't send him to immerse people, wouldn't he have been disobeying Christ in immersing Crispus, Gaius and Stephanas and his household?' (McGuiggan p. 31) In addition, why did he allow others to be baptized? ( Act_18:8 )
2. Why did he submit to baptism? ( Act_22:16 )
3. Why did he stress it's importance in other letters? ( Rom_6:3-5 ; Eph_2:5-6 ; Eph_4:5 'one baptism'-for what purpose? 'One unimportant baptism?' Look at the subjects that Paul places baptism among in Eph_4:4-6 ! Col_2:12-13 ; Gal_3:26-27 ).
4. Actually this context points out the necessity of baptism:
In order for a man to be "of Paul," two things had to occur. (1) Paul had to die for them and (2) the Corinthians had to be baptized in the name of Paul. Now, what is necessary for one to be "of Christ" (i.e. a Christian)? The necessary conclusion includes the fact, that in order to be "of Christ", you must be baptized into the name of Christ!
'It is not to be thought that Paul is belitting baptism. The people he did baptize were very special converts..The point is this--baptism was into the name of Jesus . That phrase in Greek implies the closest possible connection. To give money into a man's name was to pay it into his account, into his personal possession..This phrase into the name of implied absolute and utter possession ...All that Paul is saying is, "I am glad that I was so busy preaching (and others doing the baptizing- Act_18:8 ), because if I had baptized it would have given some of you the excuse to say that you were baptized into my possession instead of into Christ's He is not making little of baptism; he is simply glad that no act of his could be miconstrued as annexing men for himself and not for Christ.' [Note: _ Barclay pp. 17-18]
5. 'In discussions with Baptists, the argument has been made from these verses to prove that baptism is not essential for salvation...The Baptists teach that one becomes a member of the Baptist Church through baptism. Whatever argument they use with reference to this verse must also be applied to their own practice ...If (1:17)..proves that baptism is unimportant, we have Paul saying (for the Baptists at least), "I thank God that I did not make any of you Baptists" because "Christ sent me not to baptize." [Note: _ Willis pp. 37-38]
'but to preach the gospel' -which included the condition of baptism ( Mar_16:15-16 ; Mat_28:19 ; Act_2:38 )
'not in wisdom of words' -'cleverness of speech' (NASV); 'Not with an orator's cleverness' (Knox) 'Paul regards himself as a sent one, a "message boy" for the Lord and so not only does he avoid immersing a lot of people (personally, though he has someone else do it- Act_18:5 ), he avoids trying to impress people with "wise" and eloquent speech.' (McGuiggan p. 31)
Barclay reminds us, that by First Century times the wise man among the Greeks...'it came to mean a man with a clever mind and cunning tongue, a mental acrobat, a man who with glittering and persuasive rhetoric could make the worse appear the better reason. It mean a man who would spend endless hours discussing hair-splitting trifles, a man who had no real interest in solutions but how simply gloried in the stimulus of "the mental hike." It meant a man who gloried in a nimble and cunning brain and in a silver tongue and in an admiring audience.' (p. 21)
'It was Paul's claim that he set before men the Cross of Christ in it's simplest terms. To decorate the story of the Cross with rhetoric and cleverness would have been to make men think more of the language than of the facts, more the speaker than of the message.' (Barclay p. 18)
'lest the cross of Christ should be made void' -'might seem an empty thing' (Gspd)
Point to Note:
Considering this verse and the context that follows, apparently there existed a tendency at Corinth to make the gospel into just another philosophical system of thought. 'There have been several attempts to make Christianity agree with philosophies of the world; indeed, almost every philosophy will quote the Bible to substantiate its claims and ignore the Bible wherein they differ...' (Willis p. 38)
The Cross of Christ is made void, when Christianity is seen as merely something that stimulates the mind. As merely one view among many. Refuse to accept that man is a sinner, that all have sinned, that heaven and hell exist, that Jesus is the only Way to God, and you have just made the Cross of Christ void. You have just said that His death was meaningless. Admit that anyone can be saved outside of Christ, and you have just said that Jesus died for nothing. If one person can be saved outside of Christ, then all can!
Paul believed that the death of Christ was central. But the Message of the Cross carries some necessary conclusions: (1) All other religious systems fail to atone for sin. All other faiths are void of saving power. (2) Man is a sinner. (3) All are accountable to God. (4) Man cannot save himself. Sins cannot be atoned for my human effort or good works. (5) Sin is serious. (6) Hell exists (if not, what did Jesus die to save us "from"?). (7) Sin demands punishment, God will punish the unrepentant sinner. (8) All outside of Christ are lost, He is the Only Way to God. (9) Christ has the final say in all spiritual matters.
THE GOSPEL--A CONTRADICTION TO HUMAN WISDOM:
In these verses Paul shows the Corinthians, who seem to have been so impressed with the human philosophies surrounding them. 'Look at the Message of the Gospel! Would human wisdom have dreamed up the story of a crucified Deliverer? Furthermore, look at yourselves! Who in the name of human wisdom would have chosen you to be the new people of God?' ( 1Co_1:26-31 )
1Co_1:18 For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.
'word of the cross' -'Message of the cross' (Knox)
'to them that perish' -people are perishing, hell does exist! 'The present participle denotes process: who who are on the way to destruction.' (Vincent p. 191)
'foolishness' -'sheer folly' (Mof).
'The Corinthians had embraced the message of redemption through a crucified Christ. What did the world think of that? They thought such a message was crass stupidity. What, then, made the Corinthians respect the wisdom of the world? Why were the Corinthians impressed with and trying to impress the world? The Corinthians romance with the world's wisdom and philosophical schools, in part, has led them to this divided state. Paul's aim in this whole section is to expose the world's wisdom as foolishness (See Rom_1:22 ). Whom are the Corinthians trying to impress? Fools!' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 33]
Who are these people that think the Gospel message is silly? They are perishing people! Lost people! Doesn't that tell you something about the value of their opinions? Listen young people (and old). Why in the world are you admiring the spiritually--blind? starving? and beggars? Why are you impressed with someone on the road to eternal destruction? Why are you trying to emulate someone that can't even find God? Why are you drooling over someone that can't even give the right answer for their origin and the purpose for their existence?
'but unto us who are saved' -only two paths exist. ( Mat_7:13-14 ) Being saved, in the process of salvation.
'it is the power of God' -( Rom_1:16 ) This is the voice of experience. 'You and I know that the cross is God's saving power.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 767) The Christian realizes the impotence found in all human attempts to procure deliverance. What are you doing listening to 'perishing man'! Listen to the voice of experience, listen to a saved man! Human wisdom can stimulate the mind, it can entertain, it can amuse, but saving one's soul, that takes "power"! All the scheming in the world cannot remove one sin. All the rationalizing hasn't been able to save one soul! Salvation requires the power of God!
1Co_1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the discernment of the discerning will I bring to nought.
'For it is written' - Isa_29:14
The gospel message, is simply one more example of where trying to match wits with God ends in utter failure. Where mere human wisdom, is seen to be bankrupt. ( Isa_40:12-14 ; Isa_25:1-12 ; Job_38:1-41 ; Job_39:1-30 ; Job_40:1-24 ; Job_41:1-34 ; Job_42:1-17 ) 'Yet is is the folly of our human machinations that we think we can outwit God, or that lets us think that God ought to be a least as smart as we are.' (Fee p. 70) It's not the first time that human wisdom has been seen to fail, neither will it be the last.
'will I bring to nought' -'and ignore the best ideas of men, even the most brilliant of them.' (Tay)
McGuiggan describes the background of Isa_29:14 , 'The political advisors urged alliances with foreigners to preserve Jerusalem. It all sounded so smart. Pay Assyria and secretly ally with Egypt in case Assyria isn't faithful to his word. His wise, how brilliant; and they didn't need God. How stupid! And the Grecian philosophers didn't need God either.' (p. 33)
1Co_1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
'Where is the wise?' -'philosopher' (Gspd). The man "wise" in the eyes of other men. (1:26) This verse is an echo of Isa_33:18 , where the collapse of the Assyrian plans against Jerusalem were celebrated.
'scribe' -The Jewish experts in the Law.
'disputer of this world?' -'logician' (Wms); 'subtle debater' (NEB) A regular term for a disputant in the Greek philosophic schools.
'And what of the "critic" of the age? ...What of the one who thinks he has the whole thing worked out? Where did their "wisdom" end? Did it bring redemption to a perishing world? Did pagan cunning or Jewish critical ability really get them anywhere?' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 34]
'of this world' -'this passing age' (NEB). A wisdom that is limited to a very short period of time. A wisdom that is worldly, and rises no higher than the physical plane.
'hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?' -Many considered the message of the cross foolishness (1:18); and yet it is that message of salvation, that really shows how foolish all human systems of "self-deliverance" are!
How does a crucified Messiah make the following look? Reincarnation. Humanism. Everyone is on the same road to heaven. Evolution. Pleasure is the chief aim in life. Pain and suffering disprove the existence of God. Pain and suffering are only illusions. I'm a good moral person, and I don't need to be religious.
1Co_1:21 For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.
'For seeing' -'For since' (NASV)
'in the wisdom of God' -'For God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find God through human brilliance' (Tay); 'As God in his wisdom ordained, the world failed to find him by its wisdom' (NEB)
'through its wisdom' -relying on pure human wisdom. (Jeremiah
10:23; Pro_16:25 )
'knew not God' -The classic example of this is the city of Athens. One of the major centers of learning in the ancient world, and yet a city full of idols and ignorant of the true God. ( Act_17:16 ; Act_17:23 )
All human schools of thought had failed to find access to God! ( Act_17:30 ; Rom_1:21-23 ). A point to remember: Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Druidism, Spiritism, Animism, Polytheism were all in existance when Paul wrote these verses! And these systems had failed to find God!
'God's good pleasure' -'God, instead of dumping mankind, was pleased to work for its salvation. It pleased God to save people! God delights in saving people!' (McGuiggan p. 34) ( Joh_3:16 ; Luk_15:7 ; Luk_15:10 )
'through the foolishness of the preaching' -as the world viewed the message preached (1:18). Again, salvation comes from hearing a message. ( Rom_10:17 )
'to save them that believe' -'Not the cunning, the debaters, the sign-seekers'. (McGuiggan p. 34)
1Co_1:22 Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom:
'Neither Jews nor Greeks are ready to receive this message..Both are blinded by their own preconceptions. The "Jews ask for signs", for some strange and starling portents in the heavens ( Mat_16:1 ; Mat_16:4 )...The "Greeks seek after wisdom"; they believe that the way of the highest life must lie along the line of mental culture.' (Erdman p. 33)
No matter how many miracles Jesus performed, the Jews kept asking for more ( Mat_12:38 ; Joh_6:30 ).
'Both of these types of world wisdom still persist but now in modernized form. Some want the church to heal all social and even all physical evils. They demand an imposing, outward ecclesiastical organization that will sweep the world before it. They look for a millennium and the outward triumph of the gospel over all the world. Signs, signs, big tangible, overpowering results! Others bank on their reason; they assume that their intellect is able to penetrate into everything. So they follow philosophy in its latest forms..' (Lenski p. 65)
1Co_1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumblingblock, and unto Gentiles foolishness;
'unto Jews a stumblingblock' -'To the Jews it was incredible that one who had ended life upon a cross could possibly be God's Chosen One. They pointed to their own law and the law unmistakably said, "He that is hanged is accursed of God." ( Deu_21:23 ) To the Jew the fact of the crucifixion, so far from proving that Jesus was the Son of God, disproved it finally.' [Note: _ Barclay pp. 19-20]
They never thought that Jesus might have been accursed of God, because He was dying for "our sins"! ( Gal_3:13 ; 1Pe_2:24 ) They overlooked the clear passages that described the future Messiah, as a suffering servant. ( Isa_53:1-12 )
'unto Gentiles foolishness' -'To the Greek idea the first characteristic of God was..the total inability to feel. The Greeks argued that God cannot feel. If God can feel joy or sorrow or anger or grief it means that some man has for that moment moved and affected God. If that is so it means that for that moment that man has influenced God and is therefore greater than He is..A God who suffered was to the Greek a contradiction in terms.' (Barclay pp. 20-21)
1Co_1:24 but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
'called' -Christians. 'But such a message was no insult to the called ones..To those who embraced that message it isn't an insult or foolishness. To them is demonstrates the consummate wisdom of God ( in exposing the world's ineptitude and still bringing about redemption )' (McGuiggan pp. 34-35)
Hence if we are embarassed about what we believe in, it reveals that we really haven't accepted it! It reveals that we have doubts about the death of Christ really displaying the power and wisdom of God.
1Co_1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
'Because' -This way that seems foolish to men (1:18,23), is more effective than any idea than man ever came up with. And what people have viewed as "weak" (i.e. a crucified and humbled Jesus), was able to achieve more than all the efforts of men in the past! Note: Paul isn't saying that foolishness or weakness are found in the character of God.
ANOTHER FLAW SEEN IN HUMAN WISDOM:
'He adds a pertinent example of the false judgements of men in this very connection. He reminds the Corinthian Christians of the world's false estimate of them, and so of the fact that God can achieve great results by means which the world despises.' (Erdman p. 34)
Why were the Corinthians so impressed with the world (and why are we)? Seeing that the very world that they were impressed with, despised and looked down on the Corinthian believers? What are you doing admiring someone who thinks you are scum? How can you say that the world can't be wrong about the gospel message, it's wrong about you! The world says, human wisdom says, that most of you are worthless.
1Co_1:26 For behold your calling, brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
'Behold your calling' -look at the type of people who have accepted the gospel call.
'"How many wise, powerful or noble ones are among you?" he wants to know.' (McGuiggan p. 35)
'wise after the flesh' -'as men reckon wisdom' (TCNT); 'few of you are men of wisdom, by any human standard' (NEB)
'mighty' -'nor many of the ruling class' (Phi); 'not many in positions of power.' (Beck)
'noble' -'from the noblest families' (Phi). 'Noble, high birth, the three claims to aristocracy (culture, power, birth) (Robertson p. 80)
'are called' -since all are called by the gospel ( Mar_16:15 ; 2Th_2:15 ), the meaning is, 'accept the gospel call'.
'I agree with Earl Jabay that, in the main or almost exclusively, the problem with man is not that he feels too weak to do any better. The problem is that man thinks he is a god..And not only is he his own adoring servant he has "become like God". He's a marvel, a titan, an unstoppable genius, an all-powerful manipulator of the universe...Man, as you hear man tell it, is able to wipe out all signs of want and wickedness. Man has been telling us since the Enlightenment that it is simply a matter of education and breeding and we'll have a world utopia. Poor deluded mankind. By the time he's potty-trained or wipes the dirt off his knee where he was playing down with marbles, it's time for him to hobble on a stick or drool out senile mutterings. Poor man! One of the lessons God has been continuously teaching him since the garden of Eden is that he is neither powerful nor wise. Nor is he noble!' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 35]
1Co_1:27 but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong;
1Co_1:28 and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things that are:
'things' -apparently refer to groups of people, categories of people. Categories that the world looks down upon. The things which the world "considers" foolish. The things in the gospel (the cross, a suffering Messiah) matches the type of people that often accept it, i.e. the world despises both.
'What God did in the cross and in calling "lowly" Corinthians not only exhibits his own character, that he is gracious, but also illustrates that he is not beholden to the world ..Thus he is not accountable to the "wise" of this world.' (Fee p. 83)
'put to shame' -eternal shame is reserved for those that reject the gospel.
'base' -36. agenes ag-en-ace'; from 1 (as negative particle) and 1085; properly, without kin, i.e. (of unknown descent, and by implication) ignoble: -base things. 'Of no family, the reverse of noble' (Vincent p. 194)
'that are despised' -'Not merely despised, but expressly branded with contempt' (Vincent p. 194) 'God has chosen what the world holds base and contemptible' (Knox)
'the things that are not' -'and what it thinks does not exist' (Wms); 'things that to it are unreal' (TCNT) This could also refer to people that the world considers to be nobodies. ( Mat_11:25-26 )
1Co_1:29 that no flesh should glory before God.
'And so there is no place for human pride in the presence of God' (NEB); 'So that in his presence no human being might have anything to boast of.' (Gspd)
'that' -the purpose why God set it up this way. In the Gospel Message is there is room for 'I did it my way'. Everything that the world places it's confidence in, that it boast's about, that it takes pride in, God rejects.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent