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1 Corinthians 1

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Verse 1

1Co 1:1

1 Corinthians 1:1

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God,—Paul had first preached the gospel at Corinth (Acts 18:1); had planted the church there, yet his authority as an apostle had been denied, and in this letter he vindicates his claim to be an apostle. He therefore begins the letter with the assertion that he was an apostle and called of Jesus Christ to the apostleship. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God,” is a simple and literal translation, giving the idea clearly. Jesus called Paul to be an apostle to the Gen­tiles when he appeared to him on the way to Damascus. Hence, it is said: “Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead).” (Galatians 1:1).

and Sosthenes our brother,—Sosthenes is doubtless the same person mentioned in Acts 18:17, who as ruler of the synagogue was set upon by the Jews. He became a follower of Christ, was persecuted at Corinth, and likely went with Paul when he left the city under persecution, and when Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, Sosthenes joined him in it, probably acting as amanuensis. To this position it is objected that it was he, who, as ruler of the synagogue, had dragged Paul himself before Gallio, the Roman proconsul, and who, when Gallio refused to meddle with the case, as out of his jurisdiction, was set upon and roughly handled by the Jews, even before the judgment seat. (Acts 18:12-17). But since the name of Sosthenes occurs nowhere else but in this epistle addressed to the Corinthians as one with whom they were familiar, and since it is often that the most violent opposers of the truth, when once won by it, become, like Paul himself, its most enthusiastic promoters, I can but conclude that the position here taken is correct.

Verses 1-3

1Co 1:1-3

INTRODUCTION

by Clayton Winters

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, - See note on Romans 1:1. Paul had planted the church in the city of Corinth on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-10) and had remained with it for a year and a half. He wrote this epistle on his third journey near the end of his stay in Ephesus (16:8). Unquestionably Paul was one of the most amazing men to ever become a Christian. He did more to advance Christianity than anyone else in recorded history. But in addition to all his other labors, he wrote more of the NT than any other (13 or 14 books, from Rom. through Phlm. and probably through Heb.). called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ - A called apostle of Christ. His was a heavenly calling (Acts 9:10-18; Acts 22:12-16; Acts 26:16·18; Galatians 1:15-16), not of men but of God (Gal. 1:11·12). through - by (NIV). the will of God, - He was an apostle by God’s will or choice. This fact alone establishes his apostolic authority. That is, it proves his call came from God, not from others or by usurpation on his part. and Sosthenes our brother, - A companion of Paul and probably the ruler of the synagogue who was beaten in Acts 18:17. If so, his experience before Gallio may have been a factor in his conversion to Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, The born again (In. 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23), called out, separated people of God who were located in the city of Corinth. This is a designation of ownership. In the NT, the church is never thought of as some super organization, such as characterizes Catholicism and Protestant denominationalism, nor is it thought of as a faction or party, but is simply all the Christians, locally or universally, who make up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:4-5; Eph. 1:22·23; 4:4). This is the way it should be today. It is sinful for Christians to divide themselves up into sects and parties and then call themselves a church or the church. to them that are sanc­ tified - Set apart, made holy, or devoted to sacred use. Their sanctification occurred when they became Christians (1 Corinthians 6:11), at which time they were called out of the world (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) and set apart to the service of God (d. Ephesians 5:26-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). It has no reference whatsoever to a supposed second working of grace, which is a modern, not a Scriptural, concept of sanctification. in Christ Jesus, The sphere in which their sanctification had oc­curred and in which it continues. called to be saints, Called saints or saints who are divinely called. Paul was a called apostle (v. 1). The sanctified are the called saints. They were called by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). All the called out are sanctified and all the sanctified are saints. with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, All who recognize Jesus as Lord and thus invoke His aid on the basis of that faith. One cannot call on Jesus as Lord while refusing to do His will (Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46), regardless of whether it is in becoming a Christian or in living the Christian life (d. Acts 22:16; Romans 10:13-17). both their’s and our’s: - Canon Evans (Bible Commentary) lists five ways commentators have understood this dif­ ficult expression. Only two seem plausible to my mind: (1) "Their’s and our’s" connect with place, thus meaning their place and ours. (2) I think it is best understood as connecting to Christ (as Lord) and thus meaning both their Lord and ours. We are told that (1) is better grammatically; yet (2) makes more sense, especially in this context. Jesus is Lord of all who call upon His name, regardless of where they are.

1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace be unto you, - The favor of God. This is one of the great words in the writings of Paul and it reminds us that we are totally dependent upon the mercy and favor of God, not our own merit, for the salvation of our souls. As a form of greeting, we would use an equivalent expression, "May God’s blessings be upon you." and peace, - Peace with God, with others, with self, and with the world (creation). While tranquility (the absence of tur­ moil and strife) is most certainly involved in this word, that does not exhaust its meaning. It is the result of the unmerited favor of God - the recipients of His divine blessings. from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. The source of the grace and peace He invokes upon them is both the Father and the Son.

Verse 2

1Co 1:2

1 Corinthians 1:2

unto the church of God—The church is a divine name for the disciples of Christ in a city or community. The term church is used in a general and universal sense, also in a spe­cific and local sense. In its universal sense it embraces all the spirits in the universe that obey God as the ruler and the lawgiver. (Hebrews 12:22-29). In its local sense it embraces all persons in a community who have been called out, separated from the world by the gospel, and who are bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ. While in the world we can know and approach this church only in its local manifesta­tions. So far as this church is composed of spirits that are in­visible, the church is invisible; so far as it is composed of visi­ble men and women, it is a visible body. No visible being can be a part or a member of an invisible church, any more than visible arms and legs can compose an invisible body. If a vis­ible material person is a member of the church, he is a mem­ber of the visible local church where he lives. All Christians in the days of the apostles were members of the local churches. They became so by obedience to God. These local churches were bodies distinct and separate, without any or­ganic connection with one another. Each was a distinct body within itself. The members of these local assemblies, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, chose their own overseers and workers. The local congregation was the highest and only manifestation of the church. Each congregation stood on a perfect equality with all others. The elders of the local con­gregation were the highest “dignitaries” of the church, and they were chief servants and ruled by example rather than by authority.

which is at Corinth,—The members of the church at Cor­inth had fallen into many sinful habits, yet Paul recognized them as a church of God.

even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus,—The sancti­fied are set apart or separated to a sacred service of purpose. It does not mean that they were sinless, or free from tempta­tion from sin; but consecrated to the service of God. All who have entered into Christ, and have obligated themselves to serve him, are said to be sanctified in Christ Jesus regardless of their degree of consecration or perfection of character. There are degrees of sanctification just as there are degrees of Christian knowledge and fidelity to Christ. The growth in sanctification and holiness is to be attained by a constant and persistent study of God’s will, and a daily effort to bring one­self into obedience to the same.

The claim that religion in any of its parts is to be obtained otherwise than through learning the word of God and striving faithfully to do the things commanded is a sad mistake that results in the perversion of religion from a faithful, self-deny­ing service to a spasmodic feeling or impulse of excitement. True religion is to be felt and appreciated, not as fleshly ex­citement or emotion, but as the result of right thinking and doing. It is the abiding consciousness of duty performed to the best of one’s ability. This feeling of joy and happiness that thus comes is permanent and enduring. All excitement of the fleshly emotions are short lived and deceptive.

called to be saints,—All who accept the invitation offered in the gospel are the called of Jesus Christ. Saints are sanctified ones, set apart to the service of God.

with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ— [To call upon is to invoke his aid. To call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord is to invoke his aid as the Christ, the Messiah predicted by the prophets, and as our almighty and sovereign possessor and ruler. It is in that sense that Jesus is Lord. All authority in heaven and on earth was committed unto him (Matthew 28:18) after he died and rose again that he might be the Lord of the dead and of the living; that is, that he might acquire that peculiar right of possession in his peo­ple which arises from his having purchased them with his own blood. (Acts 20:28). To call upon the name of Jesus as Lord is therefore to worship him. It looks to him for that help which God only can give. All Christians, therefore, are the worshipers of Christ. And every sincere worshiper is a true Christian. The phrase expresses not so much an individual act of invocation, as an habitual state of mind and its appro­priate expression.]

in every place,—This shows that while the epistle was writ­ten directly to, and for the instruction of the church at Cor­inth, it was also intended for the instruction and use of all who call upon the name of Jesus Christ at all times and in all places. In other words, it was an epistle for universal use.

their Lord and ours:—This means that Jesus is at once the Lord and Savior of all God’s children wherever they be.

Verse 3

1Co 1:3

1 Corinthians 1:3

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.—This is a prayer that favor be unto them and peace that God and Christ have and alone can give should be given unto them. This peace nothing can destroy.

Verse 4

1Co 1:4

1 Corinthians 1:4

I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus;—He thanked God for the great favor that had been shown them as servants of Christ Jesus. [He congratulates them on the abundant gifts and graces bestowed on them from God, and to express his hope as to their spiritual progress; in order, by a praise calcu­lated to conciliate their good will, to introduce, with less of­fense, the reproofs which their state rendered is necessary for him to administer, and which he skillfully introduces. There was much to be thankful for, and hopeful about, in the Corin­thian church. And on this he first dwells, in order to appeal to their better feelings, and thus place the contrast in stronger relief, and so fix a deep conviction of sin.]

Verses 4-9

1Co 1:4-9

THANKSGIVING

Clayton Winters

1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, - I always thank God for you (NIV). His gratitude to God for them was constant, even with all their prob­ lems and shortcomings. This is the kind of gratitude that all Christians ought to have one for another. Rather than condemning one another and dividing over differences (in non-essential matters) we should work them out (in harmony with the word of God) in love and gratitude. for the grace of God God’s favor, as manifested in His provision for the scheme of human redemption, which is given you by Jesus Christ; - which was given to you in Christ Jesus (ASV). The grace which was given to them at the time they entered into union with Christ (Acts 18:8; Galatians 3:27). In Christ is the sphere of salvation (2 Timothy 2:10), redemption (Ephesians 1:7), and all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). (It is possible that Paul here has in mind spiritual gifts, that is, miraculous gifts, such as are mentioned in 12:1-11, but my own judgment is that he meant salvation from sins, which is freely offered to all.)

1 Corinthians 1:5 That in everything ye are enriched that in every way you were enriched (RSV). The grace of God had been richly poured out upon them (in ut­ terance and in knowledge) when they became children of God, the most valuable gift in the universe (2 Corinthians 8:9). Thus to become a Christian is the most enriching experience known to man. by him, in him (ASV). In Christ, the sphere of all spiritual gifts (Ephesians 1:3). in all utterance, The power of speech by which they could tell others the saving truth of the gospel. Their tongues had been set free, not miraculously, but by the marvelous gift of grace. Their utterance had been enriched with the vocabulary of the gospel, the message of salvation, and the hope of eternal life. They, as all true Christians down through the ages, loved to tell the story of Jesus (d. Acts 8:4). and in all knowledge; - Nothing necessary to their soul’s welfare was lacking in the truth that had been delivered unto them (In. 8:32; 16:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4). (If one should conclude, however, that the grace given to them [v. 4] was spiritual gifts, then he would naturally conclude that utterance here was speak­ ing in tongues and knowledge would then be that which was miraculously given, e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8; but it is my judgment that Paul had in mind the spiritual results of receiving and obeying the gospel.)

1 Corinthians 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ - The witness Paul bore concern­ ing Christ, that is, his preaching Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). was con­ firmed in you: - The message of truth, the fact that Christ was the risen Lord and Savior, was established or validated by their experience in becoming Christians. When they had heard the gospel and believed it (Acts 18:8), they obeyed Christ as Lord and as a result of this He had saved them from their sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Thus the truth was confirmed (or made to stand) in them.

1 Corinthians 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; - So that you are falling behind in no Christian grace (BV). This has reference to the gifts which resulted from grace (1 Corinthians 1:4), not the miraculous gifts (although they might be included in the broad general blessings received by the Corinthian church). The problems in the church were not the result of a lack of ability on the part of Christians, nor were they caused by a watered down version of grace on God’s part. They did not fall short in anything that was needful in their service to God (d. v. 5). waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Waiting for the ap­ pearing of Christ at His second coming (Acts 1:11), the hope of all those who have experienced the grace of God in obedience to His word (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; Ti. 2:13; 2 Peter 3:9-13).

1 Corinthians 1:8 Who - Christ shall also confirm you - Who will sustain you (RSV). The Lord had been faithful to confirm His testimony in them (v. 6) and here He promises to continue to sustain them by supplying all their spiritual needs until they arrive safely at their eternal destiny, dressed in Christ as their robe of righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). Their responsibility was to continue to walk in the faith delivered to them (15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Judges 1:3). unto the end, To the end of the age - that is, He would sustain them in both life and death

... and even in the day of judgment (Psalms 23). that ye may be blameless ­ Unimpeachable, guiltless, or stand with no accuser in that great and dreadful day when all men will be called to account. They had their sins forgiven and would thus stand justified before God (Colossians 1:28). in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. - The day of judgment (Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, - Dependable, reliable, trustworthy. He does not change His mind (Romans 11:29) or His plans (James 1:17) arbitrarily. He always keeps His promises (Ti. 1:2; Mark 16:16). Thus they could depend on Him to confirm them to the end (1 Corinthians 1:8). by whom ye were called - Through the gospel (v. 2; 2 Thessalonians 2:14). unto the fellowship The Greek word for fellowship here appears 20 times in the NT. The KJV translates it fellowship 12 times, communion four, and contribution, distribution, communication, and communicate one time each. It means a common or joint participation, sharing, or communion. It is established with God (1 John 1:3) by walking in truth (1 John 1:6), continued in Christ (1 John 1:7), and shared by all true Christians (Acts 2:42; Galatians 2:9). Fellowship with Christ and His saints is one of the sweet:!st and most valuable aspects of being a Christian, and to withdraw it is the severest punish­ ment the church can inflict (1 Corinthians 5:4-5; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11). of his Son - The genetive here is probably subjective, meaning fellowship with the Son. The whole Christian system, with all the blessings it brings, is described as being in union with Christ (in Christ) and the Christian life is fellowship (joint participation, Romans 8:17) with Him. This is illustrated in the Lord’s Supper, which Paul calls a com­ munion (fellowship) of the body and blood of Christ (10:16). Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the ninth time, in nine vv., that Paul has mentioned and magni­ fied the name of Christ. His name is exalted above every name (Philippians 2:5-11) and His preeminence shown in view of the forthcoming rebuke to the Corin­ thians for dividing over men (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). To Paul, Christ is the very essence of Christianity. He is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). In Him, man is in right relationship with God; without Him, he is hopelessly lost.

Verse 5

1Cor 1:5

1 Corinthians 1:5

that in everything ye were enriched in him,—In the four­teenth chapter Paul mentions the many gifts bestowed on the church at Corinth, showing that in everything they, as a church of Jesus Christ, had received blessings and favors that spiritually enriched them, or placed the rich gifts of the fa­vors unto which these gifts brought.

in all utterance—The ability to speak the gospel in different tongues.

and all knowledge;—The spiritual gifts that would bestow all knowledge needful for salvation and the power of im­parting it to others by the gift of tongues had been freely be­stowed on the members of the church at Corinth. These gifts had been so distributed to the members of the church that they would supply the knowledge of God’s will to them.

Verse 6

1Co 1:6

1 Corinthians 1:6

even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:— The testimony concerning Jesus was confirmed by the mira­cles wrought and the gifts bestowed, making sure that the things spoken were from God.

Verse 7

1Co 1:7

1 Corinthians 1:7

so that ye come behind in no gift;—The gifts were so freely bestowed that they fell behind other churches in no gift. “For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to the rest of the churches, except it be that I myself was not a burden to you?” (2 Corinthians 12:13).

waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ;—These gifts were to impart all instruction and knowledge while they waited the coming, or restitution, of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is difficult to determine whether this coming refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, which would be a full confirmation of all that had been said of Christ and the apostles; or whether to “when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed... in that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). [That it has reference to the latter there can be but little doubt, since the Lord promised his anx­ious disciples when he was about to leave them that he would return, and this promise was renewed by the angel on the very day that he ascended into heaven. (Acts 1:11). It be­came the settled hope of Christians that he would return. (Titus 2:12-13; 2 Peter 3:12; Hebrews 9:28). And the apostle John, who was present when Jesus ascended, closed the vol­ume of inspiration with the earnest prayer that he would come quickly. (Revelation 22:20). The expectancy of the coming of the Lord steadied and strengthened the Christian life, and probably here it is introduced as the motive by which they were kept from anything that would impoverish their spiritu­ality. This earnest desire and expectation is the greatest proof of maturity and richness of the Christian life.]

Verse 8

1Co 1:8

1 Corinthians 1:8

who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unre­provable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.—God would so confirm them in the truth of what had been taught them that they would remain steadfast and be blameless when Christ should come to judge the world. [This would cause them to hold themselves in readiness for that great day, not knowing when it might come.]

Verse 9

1Co 1:9

1 Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful,—He assures them that God is faithful to do what he has promised. If they continued steadfast in their obedience to him, he would preserve them without blame, through the power he exerts in Christ Jesus.

through whom ye were called into the fellowship—Fellow­ship with Christ means a partnership with him, a merging our individuality in the body of Christ. Earthly partnerships are limited. Business partnerships are limited to the business proposed in the combination. The relation of husband and wife is the most extended partnership of this life, yet it is lim­ited. The partnership in Christ is unlimited as to time or ob­jects of accomplishments. The completeness of the partner­ship is indicated by the comparison to the union of the fleshly in one body. They are indissolubly joined together; the inter­est of the one is the interest of all. One cannot possibly pros­per at the cost or detriment of another. If “one member suffereth, all the members [the whole body] suffer with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26). If one member prospers, all rejoice with it, the union is complete.

of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.—Of that partnership Christ is Head. He is Head in the sense that from him all the strength and power come, all the wisdom descends. He is the center to which all the members are bound, from him all the impulses and guidance flow. [Paul’s whole desire was to rivet the mind of the Corinthian church to the name of Jesus Christ. He makes no mention of any apostle or teacher, but evermore of Jesus. Nowhere in any other epistle is the name of Jesus Christ so often repeated. In these introductory verses, he repeats the name nine times, making it the connect­ing link of the whole introductory part of the epistle. The frequent mention of his name doubtless grew out of the desire of the apostle to draw them away from their party admiration of particular teachers to Christ alone.]

Verse 10

1Co 1:10

1 Corinthians 1:10

Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,—Paul, as a brother in Christ, tenderly en­treats them from God, speaking for Jesus Christ and by his authority (2 Corinthians 5:20), [not to let any other name eclipse the name of Jesus Christ, by making it a rallying point around which to gather.]

that ye all speak the same thing,—To speak the same thing is to speak only as they were taught by the Holy Spirit, with which he had told them they had been richly endowed.

and that there be no divisions among you;—They were di­vided over their favorite teachers or ministers. [The divi­sions which existed in Corinth were not of the nature of hos­tile sects refusing communion with each other, but such as may exist in the bosom of the same congregation, consisting in alienation of feeling and party strife.]

but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.—To be of the same mind and the same judgment must be practical among Christians, else Paul would not have urged it. But it is practical only when all fol­low the things taught by the Lord. By deferring our judg­ment to his teaching and following the same we can be one. When we change things which God directs or add things not taught by God, we will differ and divide. In any matter not taught by God involving no fidelity to his laws or to institu­tions, each must defer to the other.

Verses 10-17

1Co 1:10-17

Division

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now - But (BV). Contrasting the things for which he was thankful (1 Corinthians 1:4-9) with the party spirit he is now to exhort them to remedy. I beseech you, - An urgent appeal for their immediate attention and action. brethren,- Fellow Christians, adopted children in God’s family, members of the church of God, sanctified, and in fellowship with the Son (1 Corinthians 1:9). by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (ASV). The high and holy name of Christ is the instrument through which he makes his appeal. that ye all speak the same thing, To be harmonious in what you say (Williams). This has reference to unity of doctrine, which can be achieved only by all recognizing and accepting the divine standard as the only source of faith and practice. There can be no doctrinal unity as long as each man or each (human) church feels free to devise and promulgate its own conjectures, opinions, and doctrines. To have doctrinal unity, we must all return to the original and only authoritative source of divine wisdom and knowledge, the inspired word of God, delivered by the apostles of Jesus Christ (Judges 1:3). We must accept and follow the Bible and the Bible alone. What it teaches, we must teach; what it condemns, we must condemn; what it leaves unrevealed, we must let remain a secret known only to God (Deuteronomy 29:29). The only way for all to speak the same thing is for all to speak from the same Book (1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 4:11). and that there be no divisions among you; - That the division (or party spirit) among you may be repaired or cease to be. While the dissension among them had not yet ruptured the body completely, it had been fractured, and they were to restore the structural division caused by the factious spirit and which had resulted in different ones following different teachers, represented by Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 4:6). The Lord built but one church (Matthew 16:16-18; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 4:4-6). And it is nothing short of blatant human folly to build and maintain human organizations and call them the Lord’s church. Christ never in­ tended for His people to be divided into sectarian organizations or human denominations. He has but one body (1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:20; Romans 12:4-5), to which He adds all the saved (Acts 2:47), and all the members of that one body are a unit (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). There are therefore to be no additional bodies and no factional spirit within the one body. All division is condemned (Matthew 12:25; Romans 16:17-18; James 3:16) and unity is demanded (John 17:20-21; Ephesians 4:1-6). but that ye be perfectly joined together But that ye be perfected together (ASV). That is, they were to restore the perfect unity of the body, to return to its original condition. They were to repair the division in the body as one repairs a ripped garment or mends a net. in the same mind and in the same judgment. ­ In mind and thought (RSV), in mind and attitude (BV). They were to be united in both the inner state of the mind as well as in the outer exhibition of it. When people have the same mind and judgment about the doctrine and structure of the Lord’s body, when they accept and follow the same divine standard, unity is the natural result they are united in mind and in judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:11 For it hath heen declared unto me - It had been signified or made clear to him. That is, the evidence had been presented to him (which he seems to have been reluctant to accept, 1 Corinthians 11:18). of you, my brethren,--The Corinthian Christians. by them which are of the house of Chloe,--By omitting the supplied words, "which are of the house," this literally reads by them of Chloe. Nothing more is known of her. Nor is the precise relationship of Paul’s informers to her known. They could have been some of her immediate family, or her relatives, or her slaves. that there are contentions among you. Unchristian wrangling, strife, debate, or quarrels. They had gone beyond discussing matters of differences among themselves; instead they were quarreling. Discussions, when carried out with love and respect, coupled with a desire to learn, are beneficial; quarrelings, heated controversies to prove one’s self right and all others wrong or to bring others in line with his party, always result in strife. And strife, if pursued, will eventually disrupt the church.

1 Corinthians 1:12 Now this I say, that everyone of you saith, - What I mean is that each one of you says (RSV). I am of Paul; - I am a disciple of Paul. They were thus dividing into parties, some following one man and some another. Just who these men were is not known. What is known is that the Corinthians were accepting the authority of men over and above the revealed will of God and as a consequence they were following men rather than the divine Scriptures. Paul, probably to spare the men involved, who may have been innocent of trying to form parties in the church around themselves, substituted his name and those of Apollos and Cephas for the real party names (1 Corinthians 4:6). This made the point more forceful: for if it were not legitimate to follow (in a party spirit) the apostle who had planted the church (1 Corinthians 3:6), how much less those who are not apostles? and I of Apollos; - Apollos followed Paul in the work at Corinth (Acts 18:1-18; Acts 19:1) and is said to have watered what Paul planted (1 Corinthians 3:6). To emphasize the fact that Christians should follow no man except as he follows Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), Paul said that neither he, who had planted, nor Apollos, who had watered, was anything; God was the all in all (1 Corinthians 3:7). and I of Cephas; That is, disciples of Peter. and I of Christ. In the midst of the party spirit, it was the choice of some to follow Christ alone. They had rejected the parties and were following the true authority in Christianity. As far as I can determine the conclusion of most commentators is totally unfounded when they say that this group was making Christ the head of their party, reducing Him to nothing more than a party leader. This makes Paul use the high and holy name of Christ to represent a factious spirit at Corinth - that is, he uses the name of Christ as an illustration of partyism just as he does of himself, Apollos, and Cephas. This stretches credence beyond the breaking point. It is far more reasonable to conclude, and more in harmony with Paul’s reverence for the name of Christ, that he is saying there are still some who have the proper concept of Christian discipleship, even though others have developed a factious spirit. As Christians, we should all be of Christ we belong to Him, and we are His disciples and His alone! To support this, Paul later says that he is of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:7), or that he belongs to Christ (NIV). So if Paul could be of Christ without forming a party, why not the Corinthians ... and all Christians?

1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided? - Christ has been divided up! (Goodspeed). It is not easy to determine exactly whether Paul meant the literal body of Christ or His spiritual body, the church. I think the latter is the case. The Greek construction permits a positive answer to the question (hence Goodspeed’s trans­lation). They were by their party spirit fragmenting the body of Christ. Thus to divide the church into factious parties is to divide Christ to parcel Him out through different leaders. This should not be (and in the absolute sense cannot be). The body of Christ is one (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:4-6) and it cannot be rent in pieces by division among its members. Is Christ divided? No. But division depicts a divided Christ. was Paul crucified for you? - Positively not. This necessarily implies that one should belong to (be of) no man who has not died for him. But Paul had not died for anyone. Therefore no one should be of Paul (or Apollos, of Cephas, or any other man). or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? - No, absolutely not. The force of the argument here is that no one could belong to (be a disciple of) Paul because no one had been baptized into Paul’s name. But all had been baptized into the name of Christ (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38). The conclusion is inevitable: we are of Christ, we belong to Christ, we are His disciples, because we have been baptized into His name. Paul’s argument here is to prove unity in the body of Christ but he incidentally makes one of the most powerful arguments for the necessity of baptism to be found in the Scriptures. If one is a disciple of Christ because he has been baptized into His name, where does this leave those who have never been Scripturally baptized? They are not His disciples - they are not in Him (12:13; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27). If this is not the necessary implication, then Paul’s argument is meaningless.

1 Corinthians 1:14-16 I thank God--In view of the questions of 1 Corinthians 1:13, he was grateful that in the providence of God nothing he had done could be interpreted as lend­ ing support to the party spirit among them. that I baptized none of you,--As the Lord before him had done in His personal ministry (1 Corinthians 4:1-2), Paul did the preaching and left the baptizing to his assistants. Contrary to the conclusions of many, this in no way minimizes the importance of baptism or its place in God’s scheme of redemption. In giving the great commission, Jesus had commanded it (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16). In carrying out the commission, the apostles preached (Acts 2:38) and practiced it (Acts 8:12-13; Acts 8:35-39). The Corinthians obeyed it (Acts 18:8). The thrust of the statement is against partyism, not baptism. Or as MacKnight paraphrases it, "Since ye reckon yourselves the disciples of the persons who baptized you, rather than of Christ, I give thanks to God that I baptized none of you." but Crispus and Gaius; - Two exceptions to the statement that he had baptized none of them. Crispus was the synagogue ruler at Corinth before his conversion. Gaius was probably the host of Paul when he wrote the Roman epistle (Romans 16:23). Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. - Since he had baptized none of them personally (except the few named in 1 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 1:16), no one could say that he was baptized by Paul and was thus bound to him - that he was baptized by him into his name and was thereby made his follower. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: - More exceptions to the statement that he had baptized none of them. Stephanas and his house were the first to obey the gospel in Achaia (1 Corinthians 16:15). He was with Paul at the time of this writing (1 Corinthians 16:17) and may have reminded him of this fact. besides, I know not whether I bap· tized any other. It was possible that he had baptized a few others, but if so he could not remember them. It was not the design or purpose of inspiration to bring all such matter to remembrance; inspiration dealt only with revelation essential to salvation, either directly or indirectly (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; John 16:13).

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, - Robertson (WP) translates, "For Christ did not send me to be a baptizer." That is, his mission was not merely to baptize. Many do to this passage precisely what Peter said the ig­ norant and unstable would do, namely, twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). They do so in order to disparage baptism as it is taught by Christ and His apostles. They falsely reason: Paul was not sent to baptize; therefore baptism has no place in the gospel plan of salvation. But if one puts this interpretation on these words, he runs into a worse problem. He must then say that Paul had no authority to baptize. And this would mean that he was not preaching under the orders of the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). But if Paul had no authority to baptize, then how may we account for him baptizing Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas? Did he baptize them without authority? The fact is, Paul was not disparaging baptism (to do so would mean a repudiation of the great commission); he was refuting their prac­ tice of wearing human labels and thus forming parties around men (perhaps the men who had baptized them). The whole argument (1 Corinthians 1:10-17) shows that for one to be of Paul (Apollos, Cephas, or anyone else, even Christ) two things were necessary: (1) Paul would have had to be crucified for him; and (2) he would have had to be baptized into the name of Paul. But Paul had not been crucified for them, neither had they been baptized into the name of Paul. So to make his case as strong as possible, he reminds them that his mission was to preach, not to administer baptism. He was under necessity to preach (1 Corinthians 9:16). However, it was not necessary for him to personally do the baptizing. This is Paul’s point here and it comes with poor grace (and a shabby attitude toward a command of God) to rip his statement from its context to prop up a false human theory, namely, that baptism is no part of God’s plan to save. (Applying Paul’s point to Christ, the conclusion is obvious: [1] Christ had been crucified for them. [2] They had been baptized into His name (Matthew 28:19; Acts 18:8]. [3] Therefore they were of Christ they were His disciples because He had died for them on the cross and they had been baptized into His name. How anyone could con­ clude otherwise is beyond my power to comprehend.) but to preach the gospel: - His primary mission was to proclaim the good news (Romans 15:20-24). When people heard and believed the gospel, as the Corinthians had done (Acts 18:8), they were commanded to be baptized (Acts 2:38; Acts 10:47-48; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21), but it was not essential that Paul himself be the ad­ ministrator. not with wisdom of words, - not with words of human wisdom (NIV). Not with the philosophical system of wisdom common among the Greeks, but by divine revelation, as he will show in the remainder of this chapter and in chapter 2. lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. - lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (RSV). It was the power of the cross (the death of Christ on the cross), not some system of human wisdom, that made possible the salvation of the human soul from sin. To substitute words of wisdom for the preaching of the cross would drain the latter of its efficacy and meaning.

Verse 11

1Co 1:11

1 Corinthians 1:11

For it hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them that are of the household of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.—Chloe and her house are mentioned only here. They had probably come from Corinth to Ephesus where Paul was when he wrote this letter and had told him that contentions had arisen among them at Corinth, that divided them into factions and parties.

Verse 12

1Co 1:12

1 Corinthians 1:12

Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul;—Some Judaizers had come among them and denied that Paul was an apostle. Others became so zealous in his de­fense that they claimed to be his followers. He had planted the church, was plain, direct, and uncompromising in his teaching, withal was not commanding in appearance or ele­gant in speech. His enemies said: “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” (2 Corinthians 10:10).

and I of Apollos;—Apollos, an eloquent speaker and learned in the Scriptures, had gone among them, become popular and a party had sprung up claiming him as their teacher. At this writing he was with or near Paul (1 Corinthians 16:12), in communication with him and likely cognizant of the condition at Corinth, and of the writing of this letter.

and I of Cephas;—Others had come from Jerusalem and were now at Corinth. They claimed Peter as their leader and teacher, as he had been the leader at Jerusalem and in Judea.

and I of Christ.—Others still claimed to ignore all teachers and to be of Christ. This could be done in a partisan spirit. To ignore the teachers sent of Christ, and while doing this to claim to be of Christ, was to be a party. Jesus said: “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that rejecteth you rejecteth me; and he that rejecteth me rejecteth him that sent me.” (Luke 10:16).

Verse 13

1Co 1:13

1 Corinthians 1:13

Is Christ divided?—This was said in condemnation of their divided state. To divide and rend the church of Christ into parties is to divide Christ. The church is his spiritual body, to establish which he sacrificed his fleshly body. Then it is a greater sin to divide the church of Christ than it was to pierce and mutilate his fleshly body. He who introduces things not required by God, that cause division and strife, is guilty of the strife. All the divisions in the churches arise over the introduction of teachings, orders, and institutions not ordained of God. Hence the followers of Christ cannot di­vide—cannot introduce things not required by God.

was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul?—That is, they should be followers of none, save him who died to redeem them, and into whose name they had been baptized. He does not mention Apollos, but shows the folly of human leaders by showing the sin of following himself instead of Christ. [To be “baptized into the name of” signifies to be baptized while engaging henceforth to belong to him in whose name the rite is performed. In the name is summed up all that is revealed regarding him who bears it, consequently all the titles of his legitimate authority. Baptism is therefore a taking possession of the baptized on the part of the one whose name is invoked on him. Never did Paul think for a moment of arrogating to himself such a posi­tion in relation to those who were baptized by him.]

Verse 14

1Co 1:14

1 Corinthians 1:14

I thank God that I baptized none of you,—He said this on account of their divisions and strife,

save Crispus and Gaius;—Crispus was one of the first con­verts (Acts 18:8), and was baptized before Timothy and Silas reached Corinth. Of Gaius we know but little. In the epistle to the Romans (1 Corinthians 16:23), he calls him “my host, and of the whole church.” He was doubtless one of the first converts.

Verse 15

1Co 1:15

1 Corinthians 1:15

lest any man should say that ye were baptized into my name.—Had he baptized in his own name he would have taken unto himself the honor that belonged to Christ alone.

Verse 16

1Co 1:16

1 Corinthians 1:16

And I baptized also the household of Stephanas:—The household of Stephanas were the first fruits of Achaia. (1 Corinthians 16:15). Because it is said that Paul baptized the households of Stephanas, Lydia, and the jailer (Acts 16:15; Acts 16:34), some en­deavor to prove that infant baptism was practiced in the apos­tolic age, on the ground that these families contained infants and that when Paul baptized the household he must have bap­tized the infants. But that these three persons, one a woman in business of whose husband nothing is said, had infant chil­dren is far from certain. Nor does the phrase “baptized the household” make it certain that the infants, if there were any, were baptized. [For we are told that the nobleman “believed, and his whole house” (John 4:53); that Crispus “believed in the Lord with all his house” (Acts 18:8); that the jailer “re­joiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God” (Acts 16:34); that Cornelius “feared God with all his house” (Acts 10:2); and that “the house of Stephanas... is the first- fruits of Achaia, and that they have set themselves to minis­ter unto the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15). But this by no means im­plies that in these five houses there were no infants, or that infants believed the gospel, feared god, or rejoiced but that those capable of understanding the gospel believed it and re­joiced. Just so in reference to baptism. Consequently these passages render no aid whatever to those contending for infant baptism.]

besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.—[Paul guards against the statement being taken absolutely, so that any slight error in it could be used against him. The Spirit was given to the apostles to lead them into all the truth (John 16:13); but it was truth relative to man’s salvation which was thus made known to them, and not truth like the fact here mentioned, the certain knowledge of which was of no use to the world.]

Verse 17

1Co 1:17

1 Corinthians 1:17

For Christ sent me not to baptize,—By this he did not mean to deprecate baptism, or to say it was not important. An inspired man could not preach Christ without preaching baptism. Usually Paul was accompanied by his companions in labor who baptized those who believed under his preach­ing; but he went into Corinth unaccompanied by any of them (Acts 17:14; Acts 15; comp. 18:5), and “reasoned in the syna­gogue every sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4), and those persons most likely believed before the ar­rival of Silas and Timothy. So he baptized with his own hands those who believed, and after their arrival he baptized no more of them. They ministered to him by doing such service. Paul, no matter who were his companions, was the chief leader and teacher. His pre-eminence was marked and always recognized.

but to preach the gospel:—To preach the gospel is to preach Christ as God’s representative, and no one can preach Christ as he is represented in the Scriptures without teaching all he taught. Paul could only claim to be free from the blood of all men by declaring the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26-27).

not in wisdom of words,—Christ sent him to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of learning, nor by the philoso­phy of human wisdom, nor with eloquent and persuasive speech, but with the simple facts of the gospel.

lest the cross of Christ should be made void.—The simple facts of the gospel, with the requirements growing out of them, told in an earnest and loving spirit, and not eloquence and learning, should be relied on to win men from their sins to serve the living God. [To a people thoroughly vitiated in their taste, the preacher of the gospel is open to the tempta­tion of shading off those features of the gospel which are re­pulsive to the pride of the heart, and of urging the reception of it rather on the ground of its own “sweet reasonableness” than on its being an authoritative message from heaven.]

Verse 18

1Co 1:18

THE REVELATION OF GOD VS. THE WISDOM OF MAN

1 Corinthians 1:18 to 1 Corinthians 2:16

1 Corinthians 1:18 to 1 Corinthians 2:16 This section is a contrast between the wisdom (philosophical systems) of this world and the revelation of God, as given by Jesus Christ through Spirit-directed men. Man cannot know God (which means to know the will of God) by his own systems of learning or intellectual achievements. To prove this, Paul draws a sharp contrast between the wisdom of man and the power (knowledge, revelation) of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). Knowledge of the will of God must come by divine revelation (1 Corinthians 2:1-16). There is no other way for man to know the mind of God. But if man is to please God, it is absolutely essential that he know and do the divine will. This, however, is the very thing man cannot know until God in some manner makes it known to him. God does not think as man thinks (Is. 55:8-9). Nor is it in the power of unaided man to discover the ways of God (Jeremiah 10:23). Thus man cannot know what is in the mind of God until God makes it known to him (1 Corinthians 2:11). If man, therefore, knows anything about God, about His will, about His plans, promises, and purposes, he must learn it from revelation, not from his own mental resources. This is not an indictment of higher education, sound reason, or true science. It is simply to say that the philosophical systems of learning are not the source of the knowledge of God. Hence the contrast between the wisdom of man and the revelation of God.

Verses 18-25

1Co 1:18-25

PREACHING THE CROSS

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross - The word or message of the cross, namely, the death of Christ for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). The contrast is between the message of salvation, revealed by God, made possible by the cross, and human wisdom, that which man could arrive at by his own unaided powers of reason. is to them that perish foolishness; is to those who are perishing foolishness (NASB). They are lost and in the process of being destroyed because they trust in the adequacy of human reason to supply them with all that is necessary to be saved. To all such, the gospel plan of salvation is nothing short of nonsense. By what reason or logic could the death of Christ on a Roman cross redeem fallen man and bring about his reconciliation with God? To the philosopher, such a plan was foolish. but unto us which are saved -- But to us who are being saved (NASB). Those already saved from their past sins by the shed blood of Christ and are now in the process of attaining eternal salvation. it is the power of God. The power (wisdom, means, or method) of God to save (Romans 1:16),

1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, Is. 29:14; cf. Psalms 33:10. Isaiah was discussing a siege of Jerusalem, probably by the Assyrians (2 Kings 19; Is. 37). He says that the saving of the city is by God and not by the military strategy of men. Paul ap­propriates the terminology, or uses the words of Scripture, to make his point. I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, - God’s revelation would nullify or reduce to frustration their systems of learning, as far as the salvation of the soul is concerned. The philosophers could know absolutely nothing, by their own process of reasoning, of the things of God and especially as it related to the world’s greatest question, "What must I do to be saved?" and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. - And will set aside the learning of the learned (Williams). All the learning of man, while of inestimable worth in its proper sphere, is worthless in one’s quest for spirituality. God’s revelation, which was foolishness in their sight, set aside all the philosophical systems and intellectual achievements of men that is, its source was not the learning of men but the manifestation of the mind of God. Thus it was not the result of reason but of revelation.

1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise? - The Greek philosophers, the professed lovers of wisdom. where is the scribe? The Jewish scholar, teacher, or inter­ preter of the law. where is the disputer of this world? - The sophisti­cated debater and reasoner, such as those in Athens who spent their time in learning and telling new things (Acts 17:18-21). This series of questions is probably based on Is. 33:18, though not necessarily meant as quotations. They drive home the point that when it comes to knowing God’s plan and purpose, all worldly wisdom stands dumbfounded (cf. Luke 10:21). hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? - While the world looked at the plan of God as foolish, God made a fool of the world’s wisdom - that is, He reduced all the learning and wisdom of the world to an absurdity by His revelation of the scheme of human redemption. TAB treats this verse in the following manner: "Where is the wise man - the philosopher? Where is the scribe - the scholar? Where is the investigator the logician, the debater - of this present time and age? Has not God shown up the nonsense and the folly of this world’s wisdom?" This makes a distinction in the word world in the third and fourth questions. The first means this transitory age; the second, orderly arrangement.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after - For seeing (RSV). that in the wisdom of God – By God’s wisdom the world by its wisdom could not know Him - in His wisdom or design man would have to depend upon revelation to know the will of God. Thus it was in God’s plan from the beginning that man would know Him (that is, know His will) only by divine revelation. Certainly one could learn of the existence of God from nature (Romans 1:19-20), but not His will. the world by wisdom knew not God, The world through its wisdom knew not God (ASV). By their systems of logic the philosophers could never have arrived at the means by which God had chosen to save the world. This can be illustrated by the Athenians. Athens was the philosophical center of the ancient Greek world. It had known and produced some of the wisest men of all such as Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato. They knew all the gods worshipped in their time and had erected altars to them. Yet they knew nothing of the God of heaven (ex­cept that He existed). To Him they had built an altar and dedicated it to "The Unknown God" (Acts 17:23). Of Him (or His will) they thus confessed that they had learned nothing. Paul stated his intention of proclaiming Him to them by the revelation given through him (Ephesians 3:1-7). it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching - The foolishness (to the worldly wise) of the message preached. Paul has in mind the contents of the message, not the act of proclaiming it. The message is Christ crucified (v. 23; 2:2), the means by which man could be saved from his sins. to save them that believe. Those who continue to put their trust in the divine message, even when it may appear foolish when measured by the systems of human wisdom. God’s power to save is in this message (Romans 1:16), the revelation of His will. Those who try to approach Him by other means, such as mysticism, emotional experiences, intuition (often erroneously called the leading of the Spirit), etc., have abandoned revelation and returned in principle to human wisdom. One lesson we should learn well from Paul’s emphasis is that man can know the will of God only as it is dis­ closed to him by revelation through the gospel message (and that message has been delivered to us in the word of God [Judges 1:3] ). Thus man can know the will of God only by the word of God.

1 Corinthians 1:22 -- For the Jews require a sign, - For Jews insist upon miracles (Goodspeed). They demanded a miraculous manifestation of the power of God (d. Matthew 12:38-41; Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11; John 6:30). and the Greeks seek after wisdom: - The Greeks loved philosophical speculation, which they called wisdom, and they were advanced in its use beyond any people in the ancient world. They sought to correctly arrive at all conclusions by the exercise of the mind. Anything that could not be logically stated, could not be accepted it was foolishness. There was, however, no logical reason for or explanation of the cross. In it God’s revelation and their wisdom reached an absolute impasse. This meant that for them to retain the all-sufficiency of reason they would have to reject revelation; to accept revelation they would have to deny the all­ sufficiency of reason. They were faced with a radical choice. So are we!

1 Corinthians 1:23-24 But we preach Christ crucified, - The message of the cross, the vicarious death of Christ, the plan by which His shed blood pays man’s sin debt (Romans 5:6-10). unto the Jews a stumblingblock, - An idea that is re volting to the Jews (Goodspeed). To their minds the cross was an insult, an instrument of weakness and defeat (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23) rather than power and conquest. Thus the cross did not meet their requirements (1 Corinthians 1:22). How could a Christ too weak to save Himself save others? and unto the Greeks foolishness; - Absurd to the heathen (Goodspeed). It did not meet the logical demands of their philosophical systems. It was to them nonsense. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, - To the called out, the church (1 Corinthians 1:1). Those who had accepted the message of the cross and by obe­ dience had appropriated God’s plan to their own sins were a distinct group made up of both Jews and Gentiles. The three groups under consideration are: (1)the Jews, to whom the cross was a stone of stumbling; (2) the Greeks, to whom it was utter folly; and (3) the called, to whom it was both the power and the wisdom of God. Christ the power of God, - His power to save. and the wisdom of God. His message, the truth (John 14:6). There is no power greater than the cross (to save); there is no wisdom wiser than its message (God’s scheme of redemption). A crucified Christ was a powerless one to the Jews and a foolish one to the Greeks. To the Jews God could never be manifested in anything but power and to the Greeks in nothing but wisdom. In their minds the cross was neither. It was a scandal to Jews and a folly to the Greeks. But to the saved it displayed both power and wisdom: the power of God in its end (the salvation from sin) and the wisdom of God in its contents (Ephesians 3:10-11). That is to say, Christ crucified was the very thing, in reality, pursued by both Jews and Greeks, although none but the called recognized it.

1 Corinthians 1:25 -- Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; - The foolish thing God does is wiser than men (Beck). God is omniscient - He knows everything (Psalms 139:1-6; Acts 15:18; Romans 15:27). There is therefore no foolishness in Him. But even that which appears as nonsense to the philosophical mind (the death of Christ as the means of human redemption) dis­ plays far more wisdom than could have been conceived by the mind of man (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Thus God’s act of foolishness (as the Greeks saw it) turned out to be wiser than all their wisdom. and the weakness of God is stronger than men. - And the weak thing God does is stronger than men (Beck). God is omnipotent - He has all power (Genesis 17:1; Job 42:2; Romans 1:20). Hence, there is no weakness in Him. But that which appeared weak to the Jewish mind (the death of Christ on the cross as the means chosen by God to save) was more powerful than a miraculous manifestation (in its final outcome). God’s act of weakness (as the Jews saw it) was more effectual than the signs sought by them (1 Corinthians 1:22). The cross is therefore both the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Verse 19

1Co 1:19

1 Corinthians 1:19

For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, —The wisdom of the world is folly in the sight of God. The great living principle of salvation is that man must hear God and be guided by his wisdom. God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe and all things must be brought into harmony with his will and be subject to his laws. All God’s dealings with man are intended to bring about this end. The trouble with man is that he prefers to walk by his own wisdom rather than surrender to the wisdom of God. All God’s dealings with man from the beginning have been to show that man’s own wisdom has brought him to ruin. Therefore he must es­chew it and seek the wisdom of God. (Isaiah 29:14; Jeremiah 8:9; Romans 1:16).

And the discernment of the discerning will I bring to nought.—So God has foretold that he would bring all the de­vices and inventions of human wisdom to nought by the things that seemed to men weak and foolish.

Verse 20

1Co 1:20

1 Corinthians 1:20

Where is the wise?—The wise doubtless were the Greek philosophers who sought after wisdom and claimed to be its chief upholders.

where is the scribe?—The scribes were a learned body of men, otherwise denominated lawyers, whose influence over the Jewish people was very great.

where is the disputer of this world?—The disputers were the Epicureans, Stoics, and other schools of philosophy de­voted especially to disputation. None of these classes, the learned and wise of their nations, accepted the truth. Jesus said: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes: yea, Father; for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight.” (Luke 10:21).

hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?— When properly used, learning, instead of being a hindrance, is a great help in coming to a knowledge of the truth; but if a man is puffed up by it, so as to think he is wise and not de­pendent upon God, it hinders. God has shown by his teach­ings and dealings with the world that all such wisdom is fool­ishness.

Verse 21

1Co 1:21

1 Corinthians 1:21

For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God,—To know God is to know his char­acter, will, judgments, and his manner of dealings with man, when he will bless and when he will curse. It was a part of the wisdom of God, in ordering all things, that man by his own wisdom should not thus know God.

it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.—Nothing in man can teach him these things. He is dependent upon God made known through the preaching of the gospel which seems fool­ishness to man. The gospel is a revelation of God and of his will made known through Christ. Those who believe in Christ and accept him and his teachings as the true wisdom of God will be saved by it. The things suggested by human wis­dom cannot save.

Verse 22

1Co 1:22

1 Corinthians 1:22

Seeing that Jews ask for signs,—The Jews had been trained to accept the revelation of God attested by signs and miracles. It was the test of one claiming to be a teacher of the truth. The Jews repeatedly asked signs of Jesus. (Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11-12; Mark 14:48).

and Greeks seek after wisdom:—The Greeks asked philoso­phy—wisdom of the world. The religion of the Jews was based on signs and miracles; [but the more they got of them; the less they were satisfied; contrariwise, the Greeks looked with philosophic indifference on the whole field of the super­natural, regarding even the resurrection of Christ as adding but one more of the already plentiful childish fables, fit only for the simple-minded. “Give us wisdom” was their cry—any­thing that will carry its own evidence on its face. Nor was this state of things a peculiarity of that time. Every age has its blind devotees of supernatural interposition and its self­-sufficient worshipers of human reason.]

Verse 23

1Co 1:23

1 Corinthians 1:23

But we preach Christ crucified,—This they did as the only means offered to man to escape sin and its penalties.

unto Jews a stumblingblock,—Jesus was a living miracle and sign in his life, his teaching, and his works. The life and teaching of Jesus are as much a miracle, above human power, as were the works he performed. They are not so striking to the unthinking mind, but the life and teaching of Jesus are just as far above the capacities of man as it is be­yond the power of man to raise the dead. The Jews could not account for his wonderful life. [It is well known that to the Jews no doctrine was more offensive than that the Messiah was to be put to death, and that there was to be salvation in no other way. It was so in the time of Paul, and it has been so ever since.]

and unto Gentiles foolishness:—His whole teaching and manner of helping man was without reason or sense to the philosophic Greeks. They could see neither reason nor sense in it. [Nothing in the apprehension of the modernist can be more absurd than that the blood of the cross can remove sin, promote virtue, and secure salvation; or that the preaching of that doctrine is to convert the world.]

Verse 24

1Co 1:24

1 Corinthians 1:24

but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks,— The called were those who believed in Jesus and accepted the invitation to come unto him. And those who accepted him were not those filled with the conceit of their own wisdom and self-sufficiency; but those conscious of their own weakness, willing to hear, and be guided by his wisdom.

Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.—The provisions made in Christ for the salvation of men embodied what God in his wisdom saw was best to save man, and in these provisions the full power of God to save is found.

Verse 25

1Co 1:25

1 Corinthians 1:25

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men;The things provided by God that seem foolish to man have much more true wisdom than the things that seem to man the great­est wisdom.

and the weakness of God is stronger than men.—The things of God that seem to man weak have more strength in them than the mightiest of man’s devices. The seemingly weakest of God’s appointments, used in God’s name for God’s honor and glory as he directs, have all the power and strength of God in them.

Verse 26

1Co 1:26

1 Corinthians 1:26

For behold your calling, brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:—This will bear two constructions. One is, not many worldly or great ones accept the divine call and become servants of God. The other is, that not many wise, noble, or great ones of earth are chosen of God to preach the gospel. Both propo­sitions are true. The latter one seems more in harmony with the context.

Verses 26-31

1Co 1:26-31

THE WISE AND MIGHTY CONFOUNDED

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, -For consider your calling, brethren (RSV), Their call had come by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 4:15), by the preaching of the cross, not by miraculous intervention, philosophical wisdom, or family lineage, how that not many This is not meant to be an equivalent to none, but only a very few. wise men after the flesh, Those steeped in philosophical wisdom rather than the revelation of God. Those who trusted their systems of human reasoning as adequate to meet all physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Not many of this class could be found in the number of the Corinthian Christians because they were usually unwilling to give up their own wisdom for the wisdom of God, not many mighty, - Not many were powerful (RSV). That is, not many of those who seek after manifestation of power or those through or to whom power had been exerted. Thus their call­ ing was not by that which the Jews required (1 Corinthians 1:22) nor by that after which the Greeks sought. Their call, as is the call of all Christians, was by the preaching of the cross. not many noble, Those of high birth or rank, the higher echelons of society. While they are not excluded because of their nobility (the gospel is for all), their attachment to the world, their love of material things, and their desire for prestige and honor often lead them to exclude themselves, Paul is simply showing that they were not called because of their status in the world. By calling the foolish (those unlearned in philosophical wisdom), the weak, and the social outcast God demonstrated His wisdom and power as exerted through the gospel. are called: - Supplied words.

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to con­ found the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; - Not many wise, mighty, or noble are called (1 Corinthians 1:26). Rather the opposite is true. God has chosen those who appear foolish, weak, and of low birth to shame those who profess to be wise, strong, and noble. Every human system, along with those who embrace it, is bowed low in the presence of divine revelation. Revelation provides what all the wisdom, power, and prestige of this world could not conceive of (1 Corinthians 2:9-10), salvation by the shameful and cruel death of Christ on the cross. The cross thus puts to shame human wisdom, power, and nobility because they are totally disregarded as means of discovering and making known the will of God. Thus they are put to shame because of their total inadequacy to determine the con­ tents of the divine mind.

1 Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are de­based -- The opposite of the noble. In short, God has chosen the base (those having no family name) and despised to shame the high and noble. yea, and things which are not, - The base things, the despised things, and the things which are not, all describe the people God has called, those who were considered as nothing by the noble, so worthless in fact that they were regarded as nonentities. to bring to nought things that are: ­ The noble. Those who were considered as nothing (the Corinthian Christians) continued to thrive and spread their message throughout the whole world while the opposite systems came to a screeching halt. That is, the "nobodies" stopped the "somebodies" dead in their tracks.

1 Corinthians 1:29 That no flesh - So that no one (NIV). The human as contrasted with the divine. To go before God, whether in worship or service, with one’s own contrivances, with the product of his own fleshly wisdom, is to glory in the flesh -- to glory in that which man has attained rather than in that which God has manifested through the revelation of His divine will (2 Corinthians 4:7), should glory in his presence. - This means that no one can boast in God’s presence (TEV). No one can go before God and boast of his wisdom in making known the will of God. To prevent the presumptuous from trying is the very purpose of God’s choice of the foolish, weak, and base (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). Man simply cannot go before God and boast of his intellectual contrivances to serve and glorify Him. If he could he would have a reason to boast in the superiority of his wisdom. To do God’s will (which is the only way to glorify Him) one must obey His word. This is simply to say that to honor God we must do only what He has authorized. That is, one must serve God by the means revealed to him in the word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:5-21; Romans 12:2).

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him -- But from God (BV). From God as the author and source. are ye in Christ Jesus, - That is, God is the author of the system (the gospel) by which you have been brought into Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27), the sphere of your new life (2 Corinthians 5:17) and salvation (2 Timothy 2:10). Their present blessed state, although they had been chosen from the foolish, weak, base, and despised of the world (1 Corinthians 1:27-28), is the result of the work of God, not of men, not even those through whom they had learned the glad news. who of God is made unto us wisdom, -- Who has become for us wisdom from God (NIV). That is, Christ became God’s wisdom for us and that wisdom now makes possible righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Wisdom of the world is that which stands in opposition to wisdom. And righteousness,-- Our means of right standing (Williams) (Romans 1:17). Not merely uprightness or doing right deeds, but right standing before God; justification. By the means of Christ’s death on the cross, God can be just (keep His word that death must be paid for sin) and still justify the sinner when the sinner accepts the death of Christ as his sin offering (Romans 3:26). What wisdom! and sanctification, - Holiness (NIV). The opposite of the life of sin (Romans 6:19). Cf. note on v. 2. and redemption: And ransom from sin (Beck). Christ paid our sin debt (Romans 5:6-9; 1 Peter 1:18-19) and thereby redeemed us from death. This may also have reference to the resurrection, the redemption of the body (Romans 8:23), when the full fruits of redemption will be realized.

1 Corinthians 1:31 That, according as it is written, Jeremiah 9:23-24. He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. - Let him not glory in his own wisdom, might, or worth, but in the ways and means provided by the Lord for his righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Observe that the word Lord in Jer. refers to Jehovah God (ASV). Paul here applies it to Christ, identifying Him as deity and thereby exalting Him to the point beyond which no one or anything can be exalted (cf. Philippians 2:5-11).

Verse 27

1Co 1:27

1 Corinthians 1:27

but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise;—God to show his power and presence, and to manifest the folly of man’s wis­dom, and the weakness of his greatest inventions, chose the things that to human wisdom appear foolish to confound or confuse the wisdom of the great ones.

and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong;—Jesus himself came as a helpless babe among the poorer classes of the people and without human power or greatness, and undertook the rescue of the world from the dominion of the evil one. All the ap­pointments of God correspond to the character of Jesus and his condition, lack worldly wisdom. When man uses means fitted to the end sought, he is prone to attribute the result to the means used, to his wisdom in choosing the means. But when the conditions are inadequate to produce the end, then he who ordains the means is looked upon as the source of the power. Of such character was the separating the waters of the Red Sea, the throwing down the walls of Jericho, and the healing of Naaman of leprosy, and this is characteristic of God’s work generally. The things that seem foolish and weak to the wisdom of man are chosen by God to overturn the works of man, and to effect what his wisdom chooses to ac­complish.

Verse 28

1Co 1:28

1 Corinthians 1:28

and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea and the things that are not,—God chose the things that seem base, that man despised as un­worthy, and even things that are not—are dead—as Rachel weeping for her children; and she would not be comforted, be­cause they are not—dead.

that he might bring to naught the things that are:—God de­pended upon a dead Christ to call them to repentance, to es­tablish the reign and authority of God, overturn the mighty works of man that had been built up in the world in rebellion against God.

Verse 30

1Co 1:30

1 Corinthians 1:30

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,—By the provisions of God we are brought into Christ Jesus through faith. Faith af­fects the heart, the emotions, and directs the confidence and trust toward Christ. Faith carries into Christ only as it leads us to perform the acts that place us in Christ. Faith perfected by obedience is the bringing the whole man—”spirit and soul and body”—into harmony with the faith of the heart. Faith perfected by obedience embodied and expressed by repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38), puts us in Christ. “For ye are all sons of God. through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:26-27).

who was made unto us wisdom from God,—Jesus Christ with his works, teachings, and requirements is the perfection of divine wisdom to save man. When man acts according to his teaching and follows his ways, he appropriates and uses God’s wisdom to guide his steps. This lifts the humble man of earth above the weakness of his own wisdom and ignorance, and enables him to walk by the wisdom of God. When Solomon gave divine sanction to the wise proverbs of nations and peoples, he enabled everyone who has faith in God to appro­priate this wisdom as his own and to walk by it. So Jesus Christ is to us the wisdom of God. “Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12:42).

and righteousnessJesus suffered and died as though he was a sinful man that sinful men might stand clothed with the righteousness of God, and live as though he had never sinned. God is righteous, and for man to become righteous, he must live according to the will of God, that in character he may be like him. Man by faith enters into Christ, drinks into his spirit, walks as he walked, and so clothes himself with the righteousness of Christ, thus has God made him righteousness to us.

and sanctification,—Jesus sanctified himself that in him man might be sanctified or set apart to the service of God. Only in Christ, and walking in his wisdom, can man be set apart or sanctified to the services of God. Out of Christ man cannot serve God.

and redemption:—Jesus Christ came to rescue man from the thralldom of sin, and gave his life to rescue him from death. In Jesus Christ as his servant God will accept him. Thus is Christ made unto us redemption.

Verse 31

1Co 1:31

1 Corinthians 1:31

that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.—All these blessings came to man, not in his own name, or by walking in his ways, but as a servant of Jesus Christ, redeemed, sanctified, saved by him in fulfillment of the Scripture: “Thus saith Jehovah, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he hath understanding, and knoweth me, that I am Jehovah who exerciseth lovingkind­ness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith Jehovah.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). There is no room for man glorying in himself. His own wisdom, his own ways, his own strength brought death, and still bring only ruin. So he cannot glory in himself. He that glorieth in honors won, or in blessings enjoyed, must do it in the Lord, as he alone can guide with wisdom, clothe with righteousness, sanctify man to his service, and redeem him from his iniqui­ties and from death.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/1-corinthians-1.html.
 
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