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1 Corinthians 1

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-3

Salutation - 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 is called the salutation and is found in all thirteen of Paul’s New Testament epistles and is used as an introduction to his letters. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity (2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters (see Romans 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 1:19).

2 Thessalonians 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.”

1 Corinthians 1:1-3 contains Paul’s opening greeting to the church at Corinth. In this salutation, we find Paul placing emphasis upon the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit as He works in the lives of the believer to sanctify them in preparation for Christ’s Second Coming.

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

1 Corinthians 1:1 “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ” Comments - To those churches and individuals in which Paul displayed his apostleship over them in order to give correction and doctrine, he introduces himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ” ( Rom 1:1 , 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:1, 2 Timothy 1:1 and Titus 1:1). To the Philippians Paul describes himself as a “servant.” This is because within the context of this epistle Paul will give examples of himself (Philippians 1:12-30), of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:1-11), of Timothy (Philippians 2:19-24) and of Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30) as servants who laid aside their own wills and in order that to fulfill the will of those in authority over them. For this is the message and theme of Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. To Philemon Paul declares himself as a “prisoner of Jesus Christ,” because his message to Philemon was about a slave, or prisoner, who was serving Philemon. In his two letters to the church of Thessalonica Paul defers the use of a title in order to equate himself as co-workers with Silas and Timothy. He will refer to his apostleship in 1 Thessalonians 2:6, but he will be mindful to use it in the plural form as a co-worker with Silas and Timothy. This is because he emphasizes their need to labour together until Jesus returns.

1 Corinthians 1:1 “called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” Comments - Paul refers to his office as an apostle in nine of his thirteen epistles. In contrast, John never referred to his office. Some scholars suggest that Paul makes this reference because he was often challenged by others in this office, unlike John. Peter also opens his epistles stating his apostleship in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:1 “and Sosthenes our brother” Comments - His Identity - We have only one mention of Sosthenes in the New Testament outside of Paul’s introduction to the Corinthian church.

Acts 18:17, “Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes , the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.”

Some scholars interpret Acts 18:17 to mean that Sosthenes represented the Jewish community that had risen up against Paul. Evidently, the Greeks who were observing this hectic trial understood Gallio to turn against the Jews. After rescuing Paul from the Jews, they felt it their civil duty to punish the instigators of this disruption by beating the “ring-leader” of the synagogue as an act to further humiliate the Jews who lived there, a people whom their Emperor has of recent driven from Rome, and it seems a people whom the Greeks cared very little about. The beating of Sosthenes would have served as a warning to all Jews that lived in Corinth not to stir up their city again with their religious bickering. Towards these events Gallio found very little interest; for his duty was to care for the affairs of Rome, not for some religious dispute that did very little to threaten the stability of the city.

However, we have to recognize that this very Sosthenes was most likely the same person that Paul mentions in the opening verse of 1 Corinthians. If Sosthenes were the same person mentioned in 1 Corinthians, then it is possible that Sosthenes was later converted to Christianity. Another possibility is that he had already been converted, and the Greeks were assaulting Sosthenes as one of the leading figures of Paul’s group of converts. The Greeks could have done this in an attempt to teach these “converts” not to disturb their city again. Such persecution against Sosthenes would have lifted him to the forefront of Church respect.

The Purpose of Paul’s Reference to Sosthenes - Sosthenes apparently carried an influential role in the church at Corinth. Thus, when sends this first epistle to the church and gives apostolic decrees, he wants them to realize that what he says has the approval of one of their own church members, one who can regard these issues from their point view. In other words, by adding, “and Sosthenes our brother,” Alfred Plummer tells us that Paul is saying, “He agrees with me in what I have to say to you.” [81] Sosthenes’ agreement with Paul’s decrees will serve to establish them within the church. God divine principle of establishing testimony was to use two or three witnesses to do so. Thus, a single testimony lacked credibility. Even though Paul’s words carried apostolic authority, for the sake of his hearers Paul adds the testimony of one of their own in order to establish them in the church.

[81] Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915), 2.

Deuteronomy 17:6, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.”

Deuteronomy 19:15, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”

Matthew 18:16, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”

2 Corinthians 13:1, “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

1 Timothy 5:19, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.”

Hebrews 10:28, “He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:”

1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

1 Corinthians 1:2 “to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” Comments - Paul addresses his Church epistles to the “saints.” This description for his recipients reflects the underlying theme of his epistles, which is the sanctification of the Church. In contrast, Peter addresses his first epistle to the “the strangers scattered,” or “sojourners,” which is a reflection of its theme of the perseverance of the saints.

The epistles of Paul were written to the church, not to lost people, to people who were born again, not to the world. All of Paul's epistles were written to believers. This is a very important point in interpreting many passages in his epistles.

1 Corinthians 1:2 Comments - It becomes clear from reading 1 Corinthians 1:2 that the primary recipients to Paul’s letter were the saints at Corinth. However, Paul clearly states that his secondary recipients are those other saints to whom this epistle will be circulated. Therefore, the first epistle to the Corinthians is considered a circular letter.

1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:3 Comments (The Pauline Greeting) - Scholars discuss the meaning of Paul’s epistolary greetings from two different angles, either an historical approach or a theological approach.

(1) The Historical Approach The historical approach evaluates the history behind the use of the words “grace” and “peace” in traditional greetings, with this duet of words limited in antiquity to New Testament literature. J. Vernon McGee says the word “grace” in Paul’s greetings was a formal greeting used in Greek letters of his day, while the word “peace” was the customary Jewish greeting. [82] More specifically, John Grassmick says the Greek word χαίρειν was a common greeting in classical Greek epistles (note this use in Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26, James 1:1), so that χάρις was a “word play” Paul used in conjunction with the Hebrew greeting “peace.” [83] Thus, Paul would be respectfully addressing both Greeks and Jews in the early Church. However, Paul uses these same two words in his epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, which weakens the idea that Paul intended to make such a distinction between two ethnic groups when using “grace” and “peace.” Perhaps this greeting became customary for Paul and lost its distinctive elements.

[82] J. Vernon McGee, The Epistle to the Romans, in Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1998), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on Romans 1:1.

[83] John D. Grassmick, “Epistolary Genre,” in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.

(2) The Theological Approach - Another view is proposed by James Denny, who explains the relationship of these two words as a cause and effect. He says that grace is God’s unmerited favor upon mankind, and the peace is the result of receiving His grace and forgiveness of sins. [84] In a similar statement, Charles Simeon says the phrase “‘grace and peace’ comprehended all the blessings of the Gospel.” [85]

[84] James Denney, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, in The Expositor’s Bible, eds. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph (New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.), 15-16.

[85] Charles Simeon, 2 Peter, in Horae Homileticae, vol. 20: James to Jude (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1833), 285.

Comments (The Pauline Blessing) - In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host (Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle open every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God’s peace and grace upon his readers. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God's peace upon it.

Matthew 10:13, “And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.”

This practice of speaking blessings upon God’s children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. We see in Ruth 2:4 that this blessing became a part of the Jewish culture when greeting people. Boaz blessed his workers in the field and his reapers replied with a blessing.

Ruth 2:4, “And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.”

We also see this practiced by the king in 2 Samuel 15:20 where David says, “mercy and truth be with thee.”

2 Samuel 15:20, “Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee.”

So, this word of blessing was a part of the Hebrew and Jewish culture. This provides us the background as to why Paul was speaking a blessing upon the church at Ephesus, especially that God would grant them more of His grace and abiding peace that they would have otherwise not known. In faith, we too, can receive this same blessing into our lives. Paul actually pronounces and invokes a blessing of divine grace and peace upon his readers with these words, “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” I do not believe this blessing is unconditional, but rather conditional. In other words, it is based upon the response of his hearers. The more they obey these divine truths laid forth in this epistle, the more God’s grace and peace is multiplied in their lives. We recall how the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, with six tribes standing upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people and six tribes upon Mount Ebal to curse the disobedient (Deuteronomy 27:11-26). Thus, the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28:1-68 were placed upon the land. All who obeyed the Law received these blessings, and all who disobeyed received this list of curses. In the same way, Paul invokes a blessing into the body of Christ for all who will hearken unto the divine truths of this epistle.

We see this obligation of the recipients in the translation by Beck of 2 Peter 1:2, “As you know God and our Lord Jesus, may you enjoy more and more of His love and peace.

Comments (We are Able to Bless Others) - When we pray for others, God shows grace to both them and us. Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). This same blessing applies not only to the recipients of this epistle two thousand years ago, but also to you and I today. This is a spoken blessing, which blesses men, a blessing that we can receive today by receiving God's Word.

1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Verses 1-9

Introduction 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 is considered the introductory remarks to Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. This introduction will consist of a salutation (1 Corinthians 1:1-3) as well as an opening thanksgiving to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:4-9).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Salutation 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Verses 4-9

Predestination: Opening Prayer of Thanksgiving Paul begins many of his epistles with a prayer, a feature typical of ancient Greco-Roman epistles as well, [86] with each prayer reflecting the respective themes of these epistles. For example, Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving to the church at Rome (Romans 1:8-12) reflects the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in redeeming mankind. Paul’s prayer of thanks for the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:4-8) reflects the theme of the sanctification of believers so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through them as mature believers walking in love. Paul’s prayer to the Corinthians of blessing to God for comforting them in their tribulations (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) reflects the theme of higher level of sanctification so that believers will bear the sufferings of Christ and partake of His consolation. Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:15-22) reflects the theme of the believer’s participation in God the Father’s great plan of redemption, as they come to the revelation this divine plan in their lives. Paul’s prayer to the Philippians (Philippians 1:3-11) reflects the theme of the believer’s role of participating with those whom God the Father has called to minister redemption for mankind. Paul’s prayer to the Colossians (Colossians 1:9-16) reflects the theme of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the life of every believer, as they walk worthy of Him in pleasing Him. Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4) reflects the theme of the role of the Holy Spirit in our complete sanctification, spirit, soul, and body. Paul’s second prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4) reflects the theme of maturity in the believer’s sanctification.

[86] John Grassmick says many ancient Greek and Roman epistles open with a “health wish” and a prayer to their god in behalf of the recipient. See John D. Grassmick, “Epistolary Genre,” in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.

After giving a salutation to his readers in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, Paul’s opening statement as a prayer of thanksgiving in 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 sets the theme of the epistle of 1 Corinthians. Paul states that they have been predestined to abound in the spiritual gifts through the operation of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He wants them to develop in these gifts because this is God’s plan for building up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:3-4). The operation of the gifts of the Spirit are the way that God confirms and establishes and directs believers in the body of Christ in order to bring the saints into maturity (1 Corinthians 12:28-31, Ephesians 4:7-16) and eventually receive their eternal redemption (1 Corinthians 15:1-58). Paul will spend the first eleven chapters of this epistle teaching on unity among believers and character development before launching into chapters 12 and 14 on how they are to operate in these gifts, undergirded by the love walk. This is because it is only by unity in the body of Christ that the gifts of the Spirit and the anointing can operate properly. Otherwise, without love as the foundation of these gifts, they would operate in vain and bear no fruit. We find the same message of unity and the anointing in Psalms 133:1-3, which tells us “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.”

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 reflects Paul’s thanksgiving for God’s grace (4-7), His strength (8), and His faithfulness (9).

Also, in 1 Corinthians 1:6 Paul makes a reference to their initial justification in Christ Jesus, which he will discuss in 1 Corinthians 2:1-16. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 he refers to their need for sanctification, which Paul will elaborate on in chapters 3 to 14. In 1 Corinthians 1:8 he refers to their coming glorification, which Paul will discuss in 1 Corinthians 15:1-58. Thus, this opening statement serves as a brief summary of the contents of this epistle.

1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

1 Corinthians 1:4 Comments - Within the context of the epistle of 1 Corinthians, the phrase “the grace of God” refers to the operations of the gifts of the Spirit. In fact, some of the early Church fathers will use the Greek word χάρις (grace) when speaking of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit.

“For the same Apostle says, But for us there is one God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him. And again, One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is both through all, and in us all. By these words one God and one Lord it would seem that to God only is attributed, as to one God, the property of being God; since the property of oneness does not admit of partnership with another. Verily how rare and hard to attain are such spiritual gifts! How truly is the manifestation of the Spirit seen in the bestowal of such useful gifts! And with reason has this order in the distribution of graces been appointed, that the foremost should be the word of wisdom; for true it is, And no one can call Jesus Lord but in the Holy Spirit, because but through this word of wisdom Christ could not be understood to be Lord; that then there should follow next the word of understanding, that we might speak with understanding what we know, and might know the word of wisdom; and that the third gift should consist of faith, seeing that those leading and higher graces would be unprofitable gifts did we not believe that He is God.” (St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity 8.34) [87]

[87] Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, trans. E. W. Watson and L. Pullan, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol. 9, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, c1908), 147.

“In like manner we have heard also above concerning the Holy Spirit, that he too grants the same kinds of graces . For it is said: ‘To one is given through the Spirit the gift of healings, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another prophecy.’ So, then, the Spirit gives the same gifts as the Father, and the Son also gives them. Let us now learn more expressly what we have touched upon above, that the Holy Spirit entrusts the same office as the Father and the Son, and appoints the same persons; since Paul said: ‘Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock in the which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to rule the Church of God.’ (St. Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit 2.152) [88]

[88] Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit, trans. H. de Romestin, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol. 10, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: James Parker and Company, c1896), 134.

“Truly that disciple of Christ, imitating the miracles performed by the Saviour, and which he, by way of example, set before the view of his saints, showed Christ also working in him, who, glorifying his own holy follower everywhere, conferred upon that one man the gifts of various graces . Arborius, of the imperial body guard, testifies that he saw the hand of Martin as he was offering sacrifice, clothed, as it seemed, with the noblest gems, while it glittered with a purple light; and that, when his right hand was moved, he heard the clash of the gems, as they struck together. ( Dialogues Of Sulpitius Severus 3.10) [89]

[89] Dialogues Of Sulpitius Severus, trans. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, vol. 11, eds. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff (Oxford: James Parker and Company, c1894), 50.

1 Corinthians 1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

1 Corinthians 1:5 Comments - The nine gifts of the Spirit are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. Pentecostals traditionally group them as the gifts of utterance (tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy), gifts of revelation (word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits), and the power gifts (faith, gifts of healings, and working of miracles). The phrase “in all utterance, and in all knowledge” refers to these nine gifts, with “utterance” primarily describing the gifts of utterance and “knowledge” primarily describing the gifts of revelation. Through the correct use of these gifts, the body of Christ is “enriched,” built up and strengthened.

1 Corinthians 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

1 Corinthians 1:6 Comments - How was the testimony of Christ in their lives confirmed? Within the context of the passage in 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, this confirmation refers to the inward transformation of the believers as they embrace the Word of God and apply it to their lives (1 Corinthians 1:5), and to the outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:7), similar to what was seen in the household conversion of Cornelius when the Jews saw them speaking in other tongues (Acts 10:44-48), or in the church of Ephesus when Paul brought the full revelation of Jesus Christ to them, and they began to speak in tongues at their conversion and infilling (Acts 19:1-7).

1 Corinthians 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 1:7 “So that ye come behind in no gift” - Comments - Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:7 that he does not want the Corinthian church lacking in spiritual gifts. However, before dealing with these gifts in chapters 12-14, he must first discuss church unity. Paul follows this order so that God will continue to pour out His grace and spiritual gifts into their lives; for strife and discord are the enemies of the anointing by which the gifts operate, just as unforgiveness is the enemy of faith (Mark 11:22-26).

1 Corinthians 1:7 “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” Comments - The awaiting of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is mentioned by Paul in this opening passage to the church at Corinth. 1 and 2 Corinthians carry the same underlying theme as 1 and 2 Thessalonians, which deals more extensively with the Second Coming. We understand from Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians that the motive for our sanctification is to prepare ourselves for His Second Coming. Since the foundational theme of Paul’s letters to the churches of Corinth and Thessalonians is the office of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believer, then we understand why he mentions the Second Coming. Our hope of His Second Coming is the anchor of our soul that establishes us in the process of sanctification. The divine, charismatic gifts help steer us along this spiritual journey so that we can go further in our divine service than our natural abilities will carry us. This is why Paul will explains in 1 Corinthians 1:7-8 that the operation of the gifts of the Spirit are an important part of man’s journey of sanctification in preparation for the Second Coming.

1 Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:8 Comments - We know that the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will bring about the taking away of the Church in what we call the Rapture. This verse helps us to understand the role of the Church when the Rapture takes place by emphasizing the fact that we must be found blameless on that Day. I believe that the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) also states this fact by telling us that carnal-minded Christians will miss the Rapture because they are not filled with the Spirit and walking in the light of God’s Word.

Paul will elaborate on their resurrection and the Second Coming of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 15:1-58.

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9 “by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” - Comments - When we are saved, God immediately begins dealing with each believer about purging his life and developing a close, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The way that we have fellowship with Jesus Christ is by fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Within the context of this opening passage (1 Corinthians 1:4-9) Paul is emphasizing the gifts of the Holy Spirit whose office and ministry serve as the underlying theme of this epistle. Thus, within the context of this epistle, our fellowship with the Son is accomplished by allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us to create unity within the church and then manifest His gifts among them.

Verses 10-12

The Report from the Household of Chloe - In 1 Corinthians 1:10-12 Paul tells the church about the report that has come to him from some of their church members. This report reveals the divisions that have developed among the congregation.

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by 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 perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:10 “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” Comments - It is as if Christ Himself were beseeching the church of Corinth through Paul. Thus, Paul is exercising his apostolic authority in this epistle, which authority was the basis for the canonization of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The authority of the name of the Lord Jesus was given to the twelve apostles when He first sent them out to preach the Gospel (Luke 10:17). Since then, the Church has been given His name, and the authority in His name, in order preach and minister the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:14-18).

Luke 10:17, “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”

1 Corinthians 1:10 “that ye all speak the same thing” - Comments - That is, that you all come to agreement on the one teaching and goal of Jesus, which is love (1 Timothy 1:5). The divisions that existed within the Corinthian church were caused by speaking words of discord and strife. But when their words come in agreement with God’s Word and with one another, there will be unity; for the Scriptures tell us, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed,” (Amos 3:3). Thus, agreement begins in our heart, but is accomplished by our confession.

1 Timothy 1:5, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:”

1 Corinthians 1:10 “but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” - Comments BDAG says the Greek word καταρτι ́ ζω means, “put into proper condition, make complete.” The TWNT says it means, “to confirm, to establish” in regards to “Christian character.” The saints at Corinth has been made complete in their inner man after having been born again. However, the mind must be renewed by the Word of God. Paul is telling them in 1 Corinthians 1:10 that these believers need to grow in Christian maturity in the area of their mind and understanding, specifically in Church unity.

1 Corinthians 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

1 Corinthians 1:11 Comments Paul was probably in Ephesus when he wrote the epistle of 1 Corinthians. Members of the house of Chloe would have travelled from Corinth to Ephesus to visit Paul and discuss the problems in their church, asking for his advice.

1 Corinthians 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:12 Comments - Evidently, Apollos and Peter had made their way to the church at Corinth and ministered to the believers there as well. We can imagine Apollos delivering his speech in eloquence (Acts 18:24), which may have appealed to the upper class of educated converts. We see Paul preaching the simplicity of the cross in much weakness and trembling (1 Corinthians 2:1). There would have been Peter, speaking with boldness and authority, while telling thrilling stories of his walk with Jesus Christ. Dionysius of Corinth preserves for us a tradition in the writings of Eusebius that Peter had visited Corinth and helped him plant the church there.

“It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day. It is confirmed likewise by Caius, a member of the Church, who arose under Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome. He, in a published disputation with Proclus, the leader of the Phrygian heresy, speaks as follows concerning the places where the sacred corpses of the aforesaid apostles are laid: ‘But I Can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the Vatican or to the Ostian way, you will find the trophies of those who laid the foundations of this church.’ And that they both suffered martyrdom at the same time is stated by Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, in his epistle to the Romans, in the following words: ‘You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.’ I have quoted these things in order that the truth of the history might be still more confirmed.” ( Ecclesiastical History 2.25.5-8)

Whether this is accurate or not is left to speculation. Paul uses the Aramaic form “Cephas” in this verse rather than his Greek name “Peter,” perhaps because he was introduced to the Corinthians as the apostle who represented the Jewish believers, which title “apostle to the Jews” he carried. Peter may have attracted many Jewish converts at Corinth. These young converts each had their favorite preacher, as we often do the same thing today.

Acts 18:24, “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.”

1 Corinthians 2:1-3, “And I, brethren, when 1 Came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.”

Verses 10-31

The Father’s Divine Calling of Mankind Through the Preaching of the Gospel: Exhortation to Unity In 1 Corinthians 1:10-31 Paul gives his exhortation to the church of Corinth to maintain unity among themselves, which reflects the third theme of this epistle. He tells them of a report from the household of Chloe that there were divisions among the believers in the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:10-12), so he exhorts them to unity rather than being divided by following men (1 Corinthians 1:13-17). Paul then explains how God the Father, in His divine foreknowledge, has called the world to salvation through the preaching of the Gospel in such a way that it appears foolish to the world (1 Corinthians 1:18-31), so that those who accept Christ would glorify God and not man who brings the message (1 Corinthians 1:31). Within the context of this epistle, Paul explains the Father’s foreknowledge in calling men to salvation from the perspective of the Holy Spirit revealing this foreknowledge; for wisdom and miracles are imparted unto men by the work of the Spirit. Thus, the Father’s foreknowledge is reveals in His manifold wisdom through the foolishness of preaching.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Report from the Household of Chloe 1 Corinthians 1:10-12

2. Exhortation to Unity 1 Corinthians 1:13-17

3. The Preaching of the Cross 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Paul’s Background as a Roman Citizen and a Jew - As we read this great passage on the power of the Cross found in the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians, we must take a deeper look at the author in order to better understand its meaning. Paul the apostle was a man of great zeal and achievement. He was born of Jewish parents in the city of Tarsus, the chief city of Cilicia, where Greek culture predominated. In this city was a great university, which Strabo (63 B.C. to A.D. 24?), the Greek historian and geographer, was known for its enthusiasm for learning, especially in the area of philosophy. Strabo said this university surpassed those at Athens, Alexandria, and all others in its passion for learning ( Geography 14.5.13). [90] It is from this upbringing that we see why Paul was a man of zeal and great achievement; for he was raised in an atmosphere of physical and mental achievement around the university in Tarsus. We know nothing in detail about his parents. Of his siblings, we only know that he had a sister, for Paul’s nephew helped him escape harm (Acts 23:16).

[90] Strabo writes, “The inhabitants of this city apply to the study of philosophy and to the whole encyclical compass of learning with so much ardour, that they surpass Athens, Alexandreia, and every other place which can be named where there are schools and lectures of philosophers.” See The Geography of Strabo, vol. 3, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn’s Classical Library, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1889), 57.

Acts 23:16, “And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.”

Since ancient times, a Jewish child was exposed to three levels of education at the respective ages of five, ten, and fifteen, at which levels they studied the Mikra, Mishnah, and Gemara or Talmud. Their secular education was tied to their study of the Law of Moses. [91] Therefore, Saul would have been introduced to the Hebrew Scriptures at an early age, and studies through his early teenage years. Paul would have been then admitted into the Jewish community as a competent and instructed member. All Jewish boys were also to be trained in a trade about this age, which was believed to help a person live a balanced life. [92] For Paul, we know that he was trained as a tent-maker (Acts 18:3). If the parents wanted their children to acquire additional education, they sent them to Jerusalem, where there were schools of well-known rabbis. [93] Paul was probably sent to Jerusalem to further his training in Jewish law as a teenager. In his quest for education, he found himself seeking a meaning in life that went beyond his reasoning. Because of his Jewish heritage, he was later trained in the strictest of sect of the Jews, that of a Pharisee, and in this training, he sat under the most well-known Hebrew teacher of his day, a man called Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).

[91] Nathan Drazin, History of Jewish Education from 515 B.C.E. to 222 C.E. (Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1940), 14.

[92] One Jewish rabbi wrote, “Excellent is the study of the Law combined with some worldly occupation, for toil in them both puts sin out of mind. But all study of the Law without some labor comes in the end to naught and brings sin in its train.” ( Aboth 2.2) See Nathan Drazin, History of Jewish Education from 515 B.C.E. to 222 C.E. (Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1940), 20.

[93] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “Education.”

Acts 18:3, “And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”

Acts 22:3, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.”

He was schooled in Greek rhetoric, philosophy, sophistry and literature. He had seen man’s wisdom at its best as he studied Greek philosophy. He has seen man’s religion at its best as he studied under Gamaliel. In these two educational environments, Paul was yet to find a purpose in life. Paul could have easily reasoned with the greatest Greek mind to these Greek converts. For he says, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God…. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:4). We see Paul quoting from the Greek poet Aratus in Acts 17:28 while preaching in Athens, but that did not bring him close to God. Yes, he came closer to discovering the truth at the feet of Gamaliel than at the University of Tarsus, but it did not answer the most important question in life, “What is the meaning of life and why am I here?” He had seen man’s wisdom at its best as he studied Greek philosophy. He had seen man’s religion at its best as he studied under Gamaliel. Both failed to explain the meaning of life. It is this heritage that prepares Paul to become the apostle to the Gentiles.

Verses 13-17

Exhortation to Unity Paul explains to the church that there is unity in Christ, and that he never came with the intent of gathering followers after himself. He came only to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

1 Corinthians 1:14 “but Crispus and Gaius” Comments - The Apostolic Constitutions, a collection of ecclesiastical law that is believed to have been compiled during the latter half of the fourth century, gives us a list of the earliest bishops. This ancient document states that there was a man by the name of “Crispus” who became the bishop of the church at Aeginae. There is little doubt that this is referring to the same individual, since the name of Gaius is also referred to in the same passage.

“Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these…Of Pergamus, Gains…Of the church of AEginae, Crispus.” ( Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7.4.46)

Gaius is mentioned two others times in other Scriptures in reference to Macedonia and Corinth.

Acts 19:29, “And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.”

Romans 16:23, “ Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.”

The Apostolic Constitutions states that there was a man by the name of “Gains” who became the bishop of the church at Pergamus.

“Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these…Of Pergamus, Gains. Of Philadelphia, Demetrius, by me.” ( Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 7.4.46)

It is very possible that this was the same person mentioned in John’s third epistle (1 Corinthians 1:1).

3 John 1:1, “The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.”

It is interesting to note that the name of Demetrius (3 John 1:12) is mentioned next to the name of Gaius in this passage from the Apostolic Constitutions.

1 Corinthians 1:14 Comments - If we refer to Romans 16:23 we find the names of Gaius and Erastus, for Paul wrote this epistle of Romans from the city of Corinth. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:14 that he baptized these same two individuals. Paul’s decision to baptize them may have stem from the fact that they were people of rank and importance in the city.

Romans 16:23, “Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.”

1 Corinthians 1:15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

1 Corinthians 1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

1 Corinthians 1:16 “I baptized also the household of Stephanas” Comments The name “Stephanas” means, “wreath,” or, “crown.” ( BDAG) Stephanas is also mentioned at the end of this epistle to the Corinthians. Otherwise, there are no other references to him in the Scriptures. He was evidently one of Paul's early converts in the city of Corinth. He was one of a few people that Paul himself baptized. Stephanas became a faithful servant in the church. In this humble service, Stephanas, accompanied by Fortunatus and Achaicus, brought gifts (1 Corinthians 16:17) and a letter (1 Corinthians 7:1) to Paul while he was perhaps in the city of Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8). This visit resulted in Paul writing the epistle of 1 Corinthians, of which Stephanas became the bearer when he and his two friends returned to Corinth.

1 Corinthians 16:15-18, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas , that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.”

1 Corinthians 7:1, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”

1 Corinthians 16:8, “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.”

Paul’s reference to baptizing the household of Stephanas in 1 Corinthians 1:16 is testimony of household salvation. We read in the book of Acts how the household of Lydia and the Philippian jailer, as well as the household of Cornelius, were also saved.

Acts 16:15, “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”

Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Cornelius in Acts 10:44-48

Illustrations - It is difficult for us in the western culture to understand household salvation. This is because we as individuals are much less bound to our relationships as a family. My wife’s family, who are Filipinos demonstrated household salvation when her father became a Muslim for a few years. The only member of this family that did not covert was my wife, and that was because we were married. She later brought them back to Jesus Christ, but it was a family decision although the father made the decision. We see in the households of Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippian jailer and Stephanas that their households followed in the faith “from their hearts” in this collective decision to follow Christ. It means that they all gave their lives to Jesus Christ together and were genuinely saved, something that would rarely happen in the more independent Western cultures.

God can save entire households. This is also illustrated in the stories of Noah, Lot, Joseph, and Rahab. It is seen in the first Passover, when the angel Passover every home where the blood was applied, saving all members of that household from judgment.

Exodus 12:22-23, “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

1 Corinthians 1:17 “lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” - Comments The phrase “made none effect” means that it has no profit or benefit to the hearers.

Pleasing man with fair speeches is a companion to preaching a powerless message. This is where preachers compromise. The danger is to be more dedicated to a denomination, or a group of colleagues, than to the Word of God.

1 Corinthians 1:17 “not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” - Comments Paul came to them preaching not ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου (in a wisdom-type of word or message) (1 Corinthians 1:17), but ὁ λόγος ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ (the word, or message, of the Cross) (1 Corinthians 1:18). Thus, Paul is contrasting the message of human wisdom or reason with the message of the transforming power of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:17 Comments Paul now points to the cross of Calvary to bring everyone back to unity and one mind, and to mend the divisions that are in the church.

Verses 18-31

The Preaching of the Cross In 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Paul explains how the preaching of the cross is seen as foolishness to the Greeks who sought wisdom and it was seen as weak to the Jews who sought a sign. Regarding the wisdom of the Greeks, Matthew Henry says, “Some of the ancients tell us that the city (of Corinth) abounded with rhetoricians and philosophers. These were men naturally vain, full of self-conceit, and apt to despise the plain doctrine of the gospel, because it did not feed the curiosity of an inquisitive and disputing temper, nor please the ear with artful speeches and a flow of fine words.” [94]

[94] Matthew Henry, 1 Corinthians, in Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on 1 Corinthians 1:17-31.

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross” Comments The preaching of the Cross is not just telling others the message that Jesus died and rose again. It is telling others that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ must take up their cross daily in order to follow him. The preaching of the Cross is a message of sacrifice, and not pleasure. Rick Joyner adds insight into this passage in his book The Final Quest.

“When we (Paul and his co-workers) served, being in ministry was the greatest sacrifice that one could make, and this reflected the message of the greatest sacrifice that was made the Cross. The Cross is the power of God, and it is the center of all that we are called to live by. You have so little power to transform the minds and hearts of the disciples now because you do not live, and do not preach, the Cross. Therefore, we have difficulty seeing much difference between the disciples and the heathen. That is not the Gospel or the salvation with which we were entrusted. You must return to the Cross.” [95]

[95] Rick Joyner, The Final Quest (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1977), 136.

1 Corinthians 1:18 “it is the power of God” Comments Not other message on earth has been elevated to the level of power that has been given to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no scientific knowledge, not technology, no philosophy, no earthly or human knowledge, that has the power to transform a sinner and reconcile him back to God. The Gospel has a continuing effect in the life of those who submit to its message. It opens the door for the presence of God to dwell within us, for the anointing of God to work in our life. It has the power to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. It is God's supernatural ability taking us beyond our natural ability. It is God at work for us making us more than conquerors, making us overcomers in every situation in life. It is God always causing us to triumph in Christ Jesus. It is God fulfilling His plan, purpose and will in our lives so that His divine purpose in His creation will come to pass. It is a heavenly Father ministering to His children in love. The message of the Cross will bring us into this place with God. It is a walk of faith in Christ Jesus, a life of faith and dependence upon Almighty God.

1 Corinthians 1:18 Illustration T. L. Osborn tells the story of his evangelistic crusade in Thailand, a nation where very few converts had been made by the missionaries after years of work. He preached the first night with no results. Returning back to the hotel, he began to pray and question the Lord on why his preaching was having no effect upon the people. The Lord spoke to him and told him that he was preaching about Jesus, but he was going to have to go preach Jesus. In other words, T. L. Osborn was going to have to preach boldly with an expectation of signs and wonders, praying for miracles in faith. He returned the next evening and preached with all of his might, praying for the sick, demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in power and signs and wonders. Many people responded and gave the lives to Jesus Christ, and churches began to grow at this point in Thailand. [96]

[96] T. L. Osborn, Good News Today (Osborn Ministries International, Tulsa, Oklahoma) , on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 1990-91.

1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

1 Corinthians 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 this world?

1 Corinthians 1:20 Comments No doubt Paul had been challenged many times during his ministry by Greek men who were trained in literature and knowledge, or by the Jewish scribes who had spent their lifetimes studying the Old Testament Scriptures, or by others who resisted the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 1:20 Paul calls them forth in an imaginary debate, a debate in which he had engaged on numerous occasions. Paul knew the power of the Gospel to penetrate the heart of man. He may have seen his opponents seem to prevail at times and fall speechless at other times. Yet, the proclamation of the Cross of Christ shook the hearts of men.

Illustration Today, we hear the many voices of the world. For example, bumper stickers on cars attract attention with trite sayings. Men display symbols as members of secular organizations and institutions that have no place for Christ Jesus. Talk shows on radio and television offer solutions to world problems. The small signpost was stuck in the ground near the road in Fort Worth, Texas, reading “Psychic Reader Solves all problems.”

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1 Corinthians 1:21 “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching” - Comments The foolishness of the preaching of the Gospel is so apparent that not only the lost world sees it as foolish, but some preachers even criticize other preachers for the “foolishness” that they perceive in another man's delivery.

1 Corinthians 1:21 “to save them that believe” Word Study on “save” - Strong says the Greek word σώζω (G4982) means, “to save deliver, protect.”

Comments - This word is used in the New Testament in reference to the deliverance of man’s spirit (Matthew 1:21, Acts 16:30, 1 Corinthians 5:5), soul (James 1:21) and body (Matthew 9:21-22). The power of the Gospel is able to deliver us from the bondages of sin and to bring us into fellowship with Almighty God, to heal our physical bodies, to restore our minds, to deliver us from poverty, to overcome every problem in life.

1 Corinthians 1:21 Comments - Although historical records confirm that there were preachers of God’s Word before Moses, the book of Deuteronomy offers us one of the first recorded sermons in human history. Prior to the time of Moses, the Scriptures tell us that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5); and the preaching of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, is believed to be recorded in the Book of Enoch (Jude 1:14-15). However, the sermons of Moses stand tallest in ancient Jewish history because Moses was a man who preached with mighty signs and wonders accompanying his ministry as his sermons shook nations and brought multitudes to their knees in repentance and faith in God (Deuteronomy 34:10-12). The powerful effects of such preaching throughout history are expressed by the Lord Jesus Christ when He was upbraiding those cities of Galilee that rejected His Gospel. He told them that the cities of Tyre and Sidon would have repented had someone stood and preached the Gospel to them. He added that the wicked city of Sodom would still be standing today had someone came a preached to those people with signs and wonders (Matthew 11:20-24). Jesus then reminds the scribes and Pharisees that the people of Nineveh were delivered from destruction at the preaching of Jonah (Matthew 12:41). Paul says, “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-21) Since the time of mankind’s human depravity, God chose preaching as a means of fulfilling His divine plan of redemption. Jesus tells us that God send prophets from the foundation of the world until His plan of redemption of fulfilled to preach to the nations (Luke 11:50). For example, God commissioned Jeremiah to go forth and speak what He commanded him to the nations (Jeremiah 1:7; Jeremiah 1:17). Jesus founded the New Testament Church when he chose twelve apostles and sent them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations (Mark 3:13-15). How we need someone to stand up and shout from the mountain tops the unspeakable grace and forgiveness of God coupled with His impending judgment.

2 Peter 2:5, “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;”

Jude 1:14-15, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Deuteronomy 34:10-12, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.”

Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”

Luke 11:50, “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; “

Jeremiah 1:7, “But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.”

Mark 3:13-15, “And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:”

1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

1 Corinthians 1:22 “For the Jews require a sign” - Comments The Jews sought to see miracles, as in the time of the Exodus at Red Sea, or like Elijah calling down fire. They even wanted Jesus to perform miracles to prove that He was from God. Note:

Matthew 12:38-39, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:”

Matthew 16:1-4, “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.”

Mark 8:11-12, “And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”

Luke 11:16, “And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.”

John 2:18-19, “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

1 Corinthians 1:22 “and the Greeks seek after wisdom” - Comments The Greeks were philosophers, and thus sought wisdom. Luke refers to their passion for wisdom in Acts 17:21, “(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)” We know from Acts that Paul spoke to and reasoned with them using wisdom rather than with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

1 Corinthians 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:24 “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks” - Comments Those who are called by God are not people elected to salvation through the idea of limited atonement, a theology that teaches the blood of Christ was limited to only those individuals who would believe in Jesus Christ. The atonement of Jesus Christ was for all of mankind. However, a person is called when he hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached; for the proclamation of the Gospel is a call issued forth from Heaven for mankind to repent and believe.

1 Corinthians 1:24 “Christ the power of God” - Comments The Jews wanted a sign from God. Jesus has become a sign, by His resurrection from the dead.

Matthew 12:39-40, “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth .”

John 2:18-19, “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up .”

1 Corinthians 1:24 “and the wisdom of God” - Comments The Greeks sought after wisdom. Jesus has become true wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1:25 Comments 1 Corinthians 1:25 compares the Jewish quest for signs miracles and the Greek quest for wisdom with God’s ways of speaking to men.

1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

1 Corinthians 1:26 Comments Although the church at Corinth was primarily made up of the more lowly people of the city (1 Corinthians 1:26), we do find evidence that a number of Paul’s converts were of rank. Sosthenes was the chief ruler of the synagogue (Acts 18:17, 1 Corinthians 1:1). Erastus was the chamberlain of the city of Corinth (Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 1:14). Crispus was also a chief ruler of the synagogue (Acts 18:8, 1 Corinthians 1:14). Gaius appears to be a man of enough wealth to host Paul and his companions (Romans 16:23, 1 Corinthians 1:14).

Acts 18:8, “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”

Acts 18:17, “Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.”

Romans 16:23, “Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.”

1 Corinthians 1:1, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,”

1 Corinthians 1:14, “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;”

In 1 Corinthians 1:26 Paul tells the believers at Corinth that there are not many wise men after the flesh who are called, not many noble ones (1 Corinthians 1:26). In James 2:5 we are told that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith. Why is this so? Why are the poor and weak and oppressed more open to the things of God than the rich and noble? Perhaps we can find the answer in the book of Genesis by looking at God’s judgment upon Adam and Eve during the Fall. Man’s original role in taking dominion over the earth was to tend the Garden. The woman’s role in taking dominion over the earth was not in tilling the soil, but in bearing children. We then see how man was working the land while woman was tending to children. This was God’s original divine order and plan for mankind to prosper and fulfill their destinies. This is reflected in the way in which God judged Adam and Eve in the Fall. The woman had her pain and sorrow increased in the area of childbearing while the man had his sorrow and pain increased in tilling the earth. God added travail and sorrow to each of their earthly journeys so that they would learn to turn to Him for their daily peace and rest. Such daily travail brings humility, and humility leads us back to God. In fact Ecclesiastes 3:10 tells us, “I have seen the travail that God hath given to the sons of man to be humbled by it.” Thus, it is a state of travail and vanity that a person most easily turns to God. But those whose lives have been made easy by wealth and nobility tend to see no need for God because their flesh has been comforted.

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” - Illustrations:

Acts 4:13-14, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled ; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”

Acts 17:18, “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say ? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.”

1 Corinthians 3:18, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool , that he may be wise.”

1 Corinthians 4:10, “ We are fools for Christ's sake , but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.”

1 Corinthians 1:27 “and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” - Illustration:

1 Corinthians 2:3, “And I was with you in weakness , and in fear, and in much trembling.”

1 Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

1 Corinthians 1:27-28 Comments Paul Compares God’s Ways with Man’s Ways - Paul contrasts the foolish things of this world with the wise men after the flesh (1 Corinthians 1:26), and he contrasts the weak things of this world with the mighty signs and wonders sought by the Jews (1 Corinthians 1:26), and he contrasts the base things of this world and the things that are despised with the those who are noble (1 Corinthians 1:26). Thus, Paul is making a clear contrast in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 with the three people groups mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:26.

1 Corinthians 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

1 Corinthians 1:25-29 Comments The Foolishness of the Cross - 1 Corinthians 1:25-27 carries the same parallel ideas that are carried over from verse 24 concerning God’s mighty power and great wisdom. In other words, they expound upon 1 Corinthians 1:24.

Earthly wisdom finds its fulfillment in having a clear understanding, and not in being confounded. Earthly strength finds its fulfillment in prideful achievements and conquest, and not in being abased and coming to naught. God achieves His purpose and plan on earth through ways that appear foolish and weak in the eyes of the world. The reason God works this way is so that no man can glory in his own achievements, for God knows the weaknesses of mankind.

Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse:

James 2:5, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

1 Corinthians 1:30 Comments The four words “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” describe the process of God’s plan of eternal redemption for mankind. The proclamation of the Gospel reveals to us the wisdom of God as it reveals His plan of salvation. When we perceive that true wisdom is found in the ways of God, we enter into a process of redemption: justification, sanctification and redemption (also called glorification). The righteousness of God describes our salvation experience as we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. The sanctification of God describes the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as He prepares us for the Second Coming of Christ. The redemption of God refers to our catching away into Heaven through our glorification with the Father. Thus, 1 Corinthians 1:30 serves as a summary of the Trinity in God’s redemption for mankind. It serves as a summary of the contents of this first epistle to the Corinthians. For in 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 Paul will emphasize their justification. In 1 Corinthians 3-14 Paul will discuss their sanctification. In 1 Corinthians 15:0 Paul will explain their redemption.

There is no wisdom greater or more God-pleasing that believing in the Cross and the cleansing blood of Jesus for salvation. There are no good works we can do to create our own righteousness in God’s eyes. It is only faith in Jesus Christ that brings righteousness. There is no other means of sanctification than abiding in the vine, which is Jesus Christ. Nothing can pay for our sins and set us free or redeem our souls except the precious blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28).

Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood .”

We can gain wisdom by the experiences in this life. In contrast, we can look to God for this same supernatural insight and wisdom to guide us in this Christian walk without having to go through bad experiences. Note these words by Frances J. Roberts.

“The man of mature years has gained wisdom by experience. Ye may gain wisdom (if ye desire it) by, as it were, drawing on My experience. I am infinite and eternal, and though ye may be unable to grasp it, I have experienced both what is known to you as the past and what is referred to by you as the future. You live within the confines of time. I live outside all such bounds and limitations.” [97]

[97] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 53.

1 Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.