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Wednesday, May 29th, 2024
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 1

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Who by the will of God. After Paul had left Corinth, some of the “Circumcision party” had come to the church and tried to destroy his authority as an apostle. They said he had not been made an apostle by God, as had the Twelve. He states his authority as an apostle in strong terms (see also 1 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 12:12). Sosthenes. He may be the synagogue-leader of Acts 18:17, who is now a Christian. [Compare Crispus in 1 Corinthians 1:14.] He is not writing this letter for Paul, but only sends his greetings. However, as an ex-leader of the synagogue, his approval of what Paul writes would carry some weight with the Jewish Christians.

Verse 2


To the church of God. This is the most common name for Christ’s church in the New Testament. [Names of the church: see note on 2 Thessalonians 1:3-5.] To all who are called. The technical word is “sanctified.” See note on Romans 8:29-30. All Christians are “called” to be God’s holy people. The least important Christian is as much one of God’s holy people as is Peter or Paul. Together with. This letter is intended for the entire messianic community. Who call upon the name. Ephesians 6:24. Their Lord and ours. In contrast to the “party spirit” of the Corinthian church, Paul stresses our ONENESS in the One Lord.

Verse 3


Give you grace and peace. See note on Romans 1:7. This is Paul’s “word of blessing.”

Verse 4


I always give thanks. Before Paul scolds them, he first praises the good things in their lives. Along with their faults, he could see the rich blessings of Christ in their lives. A good example for all critics!

Verse 5


For in union with Christ. This points back to the “grace he has given you” of 1 Corinthians 1:4. The actual grace which they already have received in being joined to Christ. Including. The Corinthians were excessively proud of their speaking ability and their knowledge. The reference here includes those supernormal gifts from the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 2 Corinthians 8:7; 2 Corinthians 11:6).

Verse 6


Has become so firmly fixed in you. The reality and truth of it were clearly shown to them. Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 and note.

Verse 7


That you have not failed to receive. There are no “second-class Christians!” These had the present truth firmly fixed in them, and the Spirit had given gifts to the community of believers (compare Ephesians 4:7-13). As you wait. They had received the present good, but expected far greater blessing when Christ Comes!

Verse 8


Keep you firm to the end. Compare Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Paul does not say they are without fault now, he hopes they will be then.

Verse 9


God is to be trusted. Paul’s trust is in God! God has already acted in history, through Christ, to set men free. God will not withdraw his offer of salvation! Both God and Christ guarantee the offer of salvation!!! To have fellowship with. God calls everyone to come and be part of the church (messianic community) of which Christ is head. Compare Galatians 3:26-29.

Verse 10


I appeal to you, brothers. Paul could not in honesty give thanks for the condition of the Corinthian, church! Agree, all of you. The Christians at Corinth were competing with one another. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:12. Be completely united. Christians are ONE in Christ! However, the Mysterious Wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:7) was already at work. The church of the first century had every problem which the church of today has!!!

Verse 11


From Chloe’s family. This is his authority for making such a serious charge against them. Paul had an eyewitness to all that was happening there. That there are quarrels. Differences of opinion which were forming parties within the church.

Verse 12


One says. Paul shows that there were four parties in this church. Paul. Some looked to Paul as their hero, since he had planted the church there. Apollos. He was an eloquent speaker (Acts 18:24), but Paul was not (2 Corinthians 11:6). This made Apollos a hero to some. Peter. The “Circumcision party” made a hero out of Peter, as they tried to destroy the influence of Paul. Christ. See 2 Corinthians 10:7. MacKnight thinks these were Jews who had heard Christ preach during his earthly ministry, and who now made this fact a thing of pride. Rice Haggard writes: “When the followers of Christ are divided into different parties, and choose to be called by different names, a great deal of the preacher’s time and studies is spent in inventing and vending arguments to draw persons over to their respective parties. Hence the holy scriptures must be bent and twisted in support of them: to which purpose those divine materials will never submit. For who does not know, that if the Scriptures are consistent, they never can support so many parties, and those too so widely different?”

Verse 13


Christ has been divided into groups! [The TEV follows Lachmann, Westcott and Hort, Meyer, Beet, et. al., and reads this as an exclamation.] The church is the BODY of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). Can that BODY be cut up into pieces which are assigned to human leaders??? The Cross brings us into union with Christ alone. Compare Romans 6:3-4.

Verse 14


That I did not baptize. Paul shows horror at the thought of any being baptized in his own name as his disciples! He thanks God that he personally did not baptize very many of them. “And many other people in Corinth heard the message, believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). But it was the associates of Paul who did the actual work of baptizing. He did this so that no one could claim he baptized in his own name (1 Corinthians 1:15). Crispus. Formerly the synagogue-leader at Corinth (Acts 18:8). Gaius. See Romans 16:23.

Verse 15


No one can say. Paul wanted none of the glory for himself! The Good News was about God’s act in Christ!!!

Verse 16


(Oh yes.) He may have been reminded by Stephanus himself. See 1 Corinthians 16:15-17. On the meaning of “family,” see note on Romans 16:10.

Verse 17


Christ did not send me to baptize. If traditional views of Paul’s physical condition are true, he did not have the strength to do much baptizing (since it was immersion). The point here is that his helpers could take care of the work of baptizing, while he spent his time telling the Good News. [The apostles were sent to baptize, Matthew 28:19. But after baptizing the first few converts, they turned that matter over to them.] Without using the language of men’s wisdom. This is in contrast with the philosophical style of the Greek philosophers. The Good News of Christ is not an ideology to be dissected and argued over. It is a message from God to be believed! Good News only needs to be told. God’s power is in the FACTS of his historical act in Christ. See 1 Corinthians 1:21.

Verse 18


For the message. The gospel of a Crucified Savior. Is nonsense. Both Greek philosopher and Jewish teacher of the Law rejected the whole idea of a Savior who had been put to death on a cross. It is God’s power. People divide themselves into two groups on the basis of Christ. Those who are being lost make fun of the whole idea. Those who are being saved see the Cross as “God’s act to set men free!”

Verse 19


I will destroy. Isaiah 29:14 Septuagint. It is not wisdom and scholarship which saves, but God’s power!

Verse 20


So then? Paul uses some of the language of Isaiah 19:11-12 LXX to challenge those who are so proud of this world’s wisdom. Wise men. Such as Pharaoh’s advisers. Scholars. Such as the Jewish teachers of the Law. Skillful debaters. The Greek philosophers liked nothing better than to argue and dissect theories. The public enjoyed hearing this kind of thing also. God has shown. God’s Truth is deliberately made contrary to what the world thinks is wisdom!

Verse 21


For God. The Greek philosophers were some of the most intelligent men ever to live on this earth. With no tools but their own minds, they explored the limits of our creation and developed some startling concepts, over 2,000 years ago, that form the basis of our modern science. Yet with all their genius, they did not search out the True God (compare Acts 17:22-32)! By means of. It is by the “foolish message” of a crucified Savior that God saves those who believe.

Verse 22


Jews want miracles. They wanted some spectacular miracle from heaven that only God could do, as proof (compare notes on Matthew 16:1-4). Greeks look for wisdom. Some complex and elaborate system of ideology [doctrine] (compare note on Acts 17:18).

Verse 23


We proclaim Christ on the cross. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. This was “God’s ACT in Christ to set men free!” Note: not “Christ the crucified,” nor “Christ crucified,” but Christ on the cross! [The TEV correctly translates ESTAUROMENON as a predicative adjunct emphasizing the verbal action.] Not a warrior Messiah, flashing signs of great power from the sky, but a Messiah dying helplessly in shame and disgrace. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 13:4. The Jewish Talmud calls him HATTALUY – the hanged (compare Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13). Offensive to the Jews. Because they expected a warrior Messiah who would free them from Roman oppression. Nonsense to the Gentiles. The Eternal Logos dying helplessly on the cross was an impossible idea to them.

Verse 24


But for those. MacKnight sees the called as those who have heard and responded to the message of the Cross. This message is Christ = we proclaim Christ on the cross. Who is both the miracle the Jews want and the wisdom the Greeks look for. “The power of God,” and “the wisdom of God” were synonyms of the Logos in the Alexandrian-Jewish philosophy (in which Apollos was an expert). There is a triumphant note to Paul’s words in the balance of this chapter! The believing Jew found in the CROSS God’s greatest miracle! The believing Greek found in the CROSS the deepest wisdom of God!

Verse 25


For what seems to be. Things are not always what they seem to be! If the foolishness and weakness are God’s, these will be wiser and stronger than anything man has!

Verse 26


Now remember what you were. Most Christians were from the common people. Few of you. Note he says “few,” which means that some were from each class he names. Compare John 12:42. Paul’s reasoning here: (1) brings down the conceit of his readers (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Corinthians 4:7-13); (2) reveals the true mission of the gospel.

Verse 27


God purposely chose. The Greek philosophers were saying that the gospel was nonsense and weakness. Paul imitates their language and turns it against them! The pride of the cultured and ruling classes of paganism was to be put to shame by the powers and blessings which Christianity gave to its social outcasts.

Verse 28


He chose. Compare 1 John 2:15-17. Through the “weakness” of the gospel, the religions, governments, and even civilizations of the world were to be overturned! Not through armed violence, but by changing people (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Verse 29


That no one can boast. Compare Romans 3:27-28; Ephesians 2:8-10. “The source of your salvation is God’s act in Christ, not your own wisdom and strength.”

Verse 30


But God has brought you. MacKnight sees this emphasizing God’s side of salvation, in which he alone is said to bring us into union with Christ. See notes on Romans 8:29-30. To be our wisdom. Paul’s whole line of reasoning is based on this fact. We see God change human wisdom into foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:20-25). he did this for our salvation (1 Corinthians 2:7)to prove and demonstrate his own wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24), and give it to us [all Christians] in Christ. This wisdom is a life-giving moral force direct from God himself (James 3:17-18). Wisdom stands by itself; the other three things define it. Put right = Counted as righteous through Christ. We become = a new being (2 Corinthians 5:17). Are set free = we will be raised from death (Romans 8:23;Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30). Christ is all of these to us!!!

Verse 31


As the scripture says. [Jeremiah 9:23.] By “the Lord,” we can only understand Christ. Whoever wants to boast cannot boast in the messengers who proclaimed the Good News to them, but in the Lord Jesus Christ who has brought them into his Church!!!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/1-corinthians-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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