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1 Corinthians 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-31

1 Corinthians 1:1-2 . Paul, called to be an apostle. It was proper to mention this, else he would have had no title to address his letter to the Corinthians, and the catholic church, or saints in general, who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Calling upon the name of the Lord is expressive of the supreme worship presented to Jehovah by the Hebrew church. Christians therefore, in their prayers and hymns to the Θειοτης , Divinity or Godhead, which in all its plenitude dwells in Christ, call upon his name in the same sense, and in the same manner. As these words occur in nearly all Paul’s epistles, and as they would be read in the ears of jews and gentiles, he cautiously uses terms fully authorized by the Hebrew scriptures. The Father possessed the Wisdom or Word in his bosom. The Messiah sits on his Father’s throne, from which the river of life proceeds. Proverbs 8:22. Psalms 110:1. Revelation 3:21; Revelation 22:1-2. The worship of the church must necessarily be addressed to Him that made the heavens and the earth, according to the words of our Lord to the tempter. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Matthew 4:10. Acts 9:14. With this our litanies correspond. “We pray thee, help thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood.”

Of Sosthenes we know nothing, except the name; but being so honourably associated with the apostle, it can scarcely be doubted but it is the brother and minister named in Acts 18:17.

1 Corinthians 1:3 . Grace and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Similar salutations occur in the apostolic writings. Gal 1:3 . 2 Timothy 1:2. Tit 1:4 . 2 John 1:3. How are we to understand them? Whatever were the gross ignorance of the jews respecting the person of Christ, the true light now shines on the church. The Father must not be separated though distinguished from the Son, the Word and Wisdom of the Lord; for the Father stands as the fountain of deity, and as sustaining all the rights of moral government. The note of Erasmus here is, that the preposition απο Θεου from God, indicates that grace flows equally from the Son, as from the Father; for in him dwelt substantially all the fulness of the godhead. The socinians strive to make Christ nothing more than the officiating minister in the dispensation of grace; but they forget that whatsoever the Father doeth, that doeth the Son likewise. John 5:19. Their interpretation leaves the text and common sense behind, for men do not invoke the servant but the master. We call on the Lord Jesus for grace and peace, because he and the Father are one.

1 Corinthians 1:5 . Ye are enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge. Λογος , word, which in chap. 12. is joined with wisdom, in a liberal view of the mystery of redemption; but the term is here used of utterance, and being joined with all biblical knowledge, the connection of the two ideas is just and proper. A mind divinely illuminated, and like Apollos, mighty in the scriptures, pours forth the effusions of the heart, as a copious fountain to water the church of God. A people so taught by an associate ministry, “come behind in no gift,” being glorious within, and beautiful without, waiting for the Bridegroom’s return.

1 Corinthians 1:7 . So that ye come behind in no gift. The hallowed end of all eloquence, and tongues; of all divine endowments shed down on this church, and enumerated in the twelfth chapter, was to nourish their souls in faith and holiness, and confirm them in all their joyful expectations of the coming of the Lord, that in the day of his glory they might appear blameless in his presence.

1 Corinthians 1:10 . I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that there be no divisions among you. Partial divisions, schisms, and parties in the church are grievous, and Paul wisely touches the sore with tender care. When Apollos came to Corinth, his superior eloquence drew crowded auditories, and hurt the minds of the other ministers by throwing them into the shade. Parties were the immediate consequence. One preferred Paul, being converted under his ministry; and others, especially the believing jews, adhered to Cephas, who spake as a father, and his word was with power. As Peter did not leave the holy land till twelve years after the crucifixion, he could not have been many years removed from those parts of Greece when Paul wrote this epistle.

1 Corinthians 1:13 . Is Christ divided? No. There must be no schism in the body; all the members must be under the influence and command of the head. Though the church be now divided into myriads of congregations, and called by a variety of names; yet she is one under Christ the head, hallowed by the same Spirit, and inspired with the same joyful hope.

1 Corinthians 1:14 . I baptized none of you but Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, Acts 18:8, and Gaius, with whom he had lodged. Romans 16:23. He baptized the jailor’s houshold, and Lydia’s also, at Philippi, though he had baptized only two or three at Corinth. The jews baptized all proselytes by housholds, as stated in Matthew 3:0. His “thanking God” on this occasion conveys by implication a reproach on those who made partizans of the families their had baptized. Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel, which surpasses all other ordinances.

1 Corinthians 1:20 . Where is the wise? The seven wise men of Greece; Solon, Dion, Diogenes, &c.; to whom we may add, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras, who stood strong contests in Greece against the atheists, were all ignorant of the true and living God, who had renewed his covenant with Noah. Romans 1:21.

Where is the scribe, expounding knotty questions of the law, and reciting the insipid fables of the talmud?

1 Corinthians 1:21 . The world by wisdom knew not God. Yet we must not think lightly of men who brought the fine arts to perfection. Their architecture, painting, poetry, and eloquence, cannot be exceeded. But respecting the divine nature, their minds were beclouded with monstrous mythologies, and greatly blinded by criminal passions, though on great occasions they would exclaim, O magnus Deus, oh the great God! The Egyptians, like the Indians, knew of a first God. Genesis 43:0. Socrates attained to that idea. The Persians, like Solomon, said, he dwelt not in temples made with hands. Numas also contended that a statue could not represent him; an idol is not Brumha. But they knew not God by covenant and revelation, they knew not the way in which he manifested mercy, neither did they know the disease of their own hearts. It is on the church that the light of the knowledge of God shines through a Mediator, and life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel.

1 Corinthians 1:22 . The jews require a sign, as expounded in Matthew 12:48. To them we preach a crucified Redeemer; the Healer exalted on the pole, and God’s best sign of healing grace in the heart.

The Greeks seek after wisdom, some new system of philosophy. To them also we preach the being and perfections of God, as seen in the mirror of creation; and then reveal to them the glorious person of Christ, as the only Saviour. We exhibit the wisdom of God in the redemption of the world, as a system worthy of God to reveal, and of man to believe; a system which has gained the mind, and captivated the heart of the greatest geniuses.

1 Corinthians 1:27 . God hath chosen the foolish things of the world. See the reflections on Matthew 10:0.


We preach Christ crucified to the jews a stumbling-block, for they still stumble at the stone rejected by the builders. Psalms 118:22. Matthew 22:42. Looking for a temporal Messiah, whose glory should exceed that of Solomon, they find instead, a Saviour riding on an ass’s colt, and whose kingdom was not of this world. Therefore, away with him; crucify him. But did their fathers, bitten with the serpents, reject the remedy provided, or stumble at the cross?

On entering Macedonia; and the adjacent provinces, the Greeks expect a display of wisdom, from men come from Asia; some new system of philosophy, some superior views of Chaldaic, of Indian, or of Egyptian mythology. But on the first naming of the cross, they turn away their ears, as from monstrous folly. But did their fathers by wisdom know God; was it all folly when they covered the earth with bleeding victims, among which were firstborn sons of noble birth. Let Naaman for a moment suspend his rage, and learn wisdom from a servant.

Was ever wisdom presented to the mind of man like the plan of our redemption; wisdom which the angels desire to study? Was ever love like the love of God to fallen man, in not sparing his own Son, the Son of Himself, but freely delivering Him up for us all? Was ever grace so superabundant as that, which with the Son, hath freely given us all things? Did the Hebrew prophets ever receive honour, glory, and seals of truth like those conferred by the sufferings of the Saviour; and in the glory of his resurrection and ascension? Was ever grace like that of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and all the adornings of the church? What a Mediator, what a sacrifice, what a fountain, what a regeneration, what a church, what a heaven and a hope! Truly we speak wisdom with those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness with God. Truly the gospel displays the Saviour as the wisdom and the power of God. He is our wisdom as a prophet, our righteousness as a mediator, our sanctification and eternal redemption. Romans 1:17.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-corinthians-1.html. 1835.
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