corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.16
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
1 Corinthians 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-9

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

Paul could never have sustained the great weight of responsibility and tribulation which fell upon him if he had not felt that he was “called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” No man will ever be fit for the ministry of the Word unless he is called to it by God. This also will be your strength in every other station of life; if God has called you to your peculiar work and warfare, he will not send you at your own charges, but he will be at the back of you, and support you even to the end. I think it is for this reason that Paul so constantly dwells upon his own calling when he is about to write to the churches, that he may remind other believers that they have similar privileges in their spheres of labour.

1 Corinthians 1:2-3. Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

A church should be made up of sanctified persons, those who have been set apart in Christ from before the foundation of the world, those who have been called by the Spirit of God to holiness of life. We sometimes sing, — “With them number’d may we be Now, and through eternity;”-- but if we are not holy, if we are not truly sanctified, how can we expect to be numbered with the Church of Christ? Where there is no true holiness, there is no work of the Spirit of God. For all the holy ones Paul desires grace and peace, for they still need these blessings. The holiest of men still have spots about them, and they need that grace and peace should be given to them from day to day through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

It is something to be thankful for God’s goodness to yourself, but it is a higher virtue to be thankful for God’s goodness to others. How grateful we might be all day long if we had a quick eye to see the grace of God in our fellow-Christians, and if we blessed God for it whenever we saw it! There are some whose eye is much more quick to see imperfections than to see graces; it is a pity to have such a jaundiced eye as that; may we have a good, sound, clear, gracious eye, which will see all the good there is in our fellow-believers; and may we then ascribe it all to God, and bless and praise him for it!

1 Corinthians 1:5-8. That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was very wise of Paul thus to praise these Corinthians where they could be praised, for he was about to upbraid them and reprove them for many things which were not pleasing to God. If you have the unpleasant duty of rebuking those who deserve it, always take care that you begin by saying all that you can, and all that you ought, in their favor; it will prepare the way for what you have to say to them afterwards. The Corinthians were a highly-gifted church; they probably had more knowledge and more of the gifts of utterance than any other church of their day; but, alas! they fell into greater sin than did their sister churches. Great gifts are not great graces; but great gifts require great graces to go with them, or else they become a. temptation and a snare. Yet Paul felt quite sure that God would keep even these Corinthians with all their imperfections, and confirm them unto the end; and that which was true of them, is also true of all the Lord’s people, God will preserve them to the very end.

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


Verses 1-24

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

This brother had been put to great shame. He was beaten before the judgment-seat, if you remember, and now he has the great and lasting honour of being mentioned by the apostle with himself. God will honour those who bear dishonour for his name’s sake. Be not ashamed even to be beaten for Christ; the stripes are stripes of glory.

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

The epistles were written to distinct churches, but they have a bearing upon all Christians; hence the apostle says, “With all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” Let us thank God no Scripture is of private interpretation; every promise belongs to all the seed. If you are a believer, you may freely appropriate to yourselves whatever was said of old to any individual believer, or to any congregation of believers.

1 Corinthians 1:3-4. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

Paul is a great preacher of grace, and therefore he is a great giver of thanks. Grace should be followed with thankfulness. “I thank my God.” What a beautiful expression! Not only “I thank God,” but “I thank my God.” He has God in possession, he has taken him to be his own for ever and ever. Beloved, have we all done the same? Can we say, “I thank my God”? You notice how often Paul in the first ten verses mentions the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think it is eleven times. He was full of Christ.

Not only did he love Christ in his heart, but he had Christ’s name continually on his tongue, for he was not ashamed of the sweet name of Jesus Christ. Honey in the mouth, music in the ear, heaven in the heart, is that sweet name of Jesus.

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

The church of Corinth was a church of all the talents: it was not, however, a church so much of all the graces, and so it was a very poor example for us. I sometimes think that its mode of worship is recorded rather as a warning beacon than as an example to us. It caused, incidentally through the abundance of their gifts and everybody wanting to exercise his gift, great divisions, and there was an absence of humility and love in the church. However, Paul is thankful for what they have.

1 Corinthians 1:6-7. Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

This is a fine trait in their character, they did look to the second Advent; it operated upon them, it helped them in many ways. We cannot now mention all the holy uses which is in the waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it ought to be a good description of all Christian men.

1 Corinthians 1:8-9. Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful,

Blessed be his name that he is. We are often very unfaithful. Man is always so, but “God is faithful.”

1 Corinthians 1:9-10. By whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Where it is not so, the life of piety seems to ooze away. The blessing of God cannot rest upon a church unless we dwell together in unity, and for unity it is necessary that we be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 1:11-15. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius. Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

It may have been an accidental circumstance that he did not happen to have baptized then, but he is glad of it, for he says that in the temper they were in, some of them would have made a boast of it.

1 Corinthians 1:16-17. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel:

There were other people who could baptize for him: it was enough for that he should concentrate all his energies upon that one matter of preaching the gospel, not that he neglected the divine command, but that it was not necessary that he, any more than his Master, should baptize personally, for we read that “Jesus Christ baptized not, but his disciples.” Not to put a dishonour upon the ordinance, but to let us see that the ordinance does not depend upon the man, but upon that sacred name into which we are baptized, and upon the true faith of the person baptized.

1 Corinthians 1:17. Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

A very remarkable passage! Paul could have used the wisdom of words. In some of his epistles he gives us a specimen of his mighty rhetoric. He was a born master of speech. There was a touch of poetry in him, and always a high logical power, but he would not use it in his preaching, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. You may do what you like with human wisdom, put a bit into its mouth and try to lead it into obedience to Christ, but somehow or other its tendency is to rebel against him.

1 Corinthians 1:18-21. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God,

You have only to study the history of the world at the time when Paul was writing, and you will see that the “world, by wisdom knew not God.” It had made itself exceedingly philosophical and sage, but if you weigh its wisest conclusions you will find that they were only polished folly. There is nothing left us of all the wisdom of that period. Time itself has proved it: nay, has disproved it.

1 Corinthians 1:21-22. It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign,

Some miracle, something that shall attest it in a supernatural way.

1 Corinthians 1:22-24. And the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Beloved, you know how true this is. It has been a wonderful power in you, and this day it is the only wisdom which you desire to possess.


Verses 1-31

1, 2. Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth,

-Note the humility of Paul in associating with himself an almost unknown brother, Sosthenes. Although the letter is written by Paul alone, yet, as if he did not care to stand in isolation even for a moment, he associates Sosthenes with himself in the salutation: “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth,” —

2. To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,

Called to sacred uses, set apart unto God. That is the call of all believers; they are like those vessels of the sanctuary which were not to be used by any but the priests of God, and by them only for God’s service.

2. With all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

That is a very happy phrase, “both theirs and ours”. There are multitudes of saints whose faces we never saw yet Christ is theirs, there are some with whom we might not agree in all particulars, yet Christ is theirs just as much as he is ours. All Christ is theirs, and all Christ is ours, and here is the grand bond of union between believers of different nationalities and different tongues.

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

Grace first, for that is the fountain; then peace comes, for that is the fitting stream to flow from the fountain of grace. Seek not peace first, for there is no peace for unregenerate man; grace first, then peace, and both must come “from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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

That is wisely written, for Paul was about to upbraid these Corinthians for many serious faults, yet he begins by acknowledging that they had certain excellences. It gives you a ground to stand upon if you are willing to see all that is good in those whom you have to rebuke. But Paul did not merely use this as a polite way of commencing his epistle, but he did really every day thank God for the grace which these Corinthians had; yet how seldom do we thank God for the grace that he has given to other people, especially if they outshine us, if they do more for the cause of God than we do; then, we half regret that they have so much grace, but it was not so with Paul.

5, 6. That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

The church at Corinth was an important church, with more than the usual number of speaking men among the members. This led to mischief, but had they known how to use this talent aright, the church at Corinth might have been of great service; instead of watch, it split itself up into little parties, and became one of the worst churches that then existed, as certain communities which imitate them in this present day, have also done.

7, 8. So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul continues to recognize the abundance of their endowments, and to express for them the utmost of affection, and then he adds his full conviction that God would prove the power of his grace by keeping them unto the end, and then presenting them “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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

As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” To be called by the faithful God is the guarantee of everlasting salvation.

10. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

They could not speak the same thing if they had not the same mind and the same judgment. Paul dreaded the introduction of anything that would divide the hearts of believers one from another; and, beloved, let every one of us, wherever we go, be on the side of Christian truth, Christian unity, and Christian love. There is no true unity outside of truth; and the nearest way to Christian union is union in the truth. When error shall be destroyed, that which divides will be taken away; when truth is dominant, union will be universal, but it will not be so before that is the case.

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

He does not go beating about the bush, but he speaks straight out, and gives the name of his informants, for persons who bring reports about others should always be ready to have their names mentioned. It may be unpleasant for them, but it is sometimes necessary to do unpleasant things and those who will not allow their names to be mentioned in connection with a statement adverse to character deserve no notice whatever.

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

The last were as bad as the others, it makes no difference what the party name is, for it may only thinly conceal the most sectarian spirit to say, “I am of Christ.”

13. Is Christ divided?

Paul begins with that, for it is the worst of all divisions to make Christ the head of a party in his own church.

13-16. Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

Paul considered that it was a providential circumstance that he had baptized no more of them, else they would have cried themselves up as superior to those who had been baptized by others.

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

It is true that baptism is in the original commission of all Christ’s servants, but it occupies a very secondary place compared with the preaching of the gospel; and was an evil day when the Christian Church began to put rites before doctrines, and ceremonies in the place that should be occupied by the gospel itself. Paul therefore says that his main commission was not to baptize, “but to preach the gospel.”

18-20 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Indeed he has; he has let it run the full length of its tether so that we may see the folly that can be taught by wise men.

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

Not by foolish preaching, but by that preaching which men call foolishness.

22. For the Jews require a sign,

They were always looking for supernatural manifestations.

22. And the Greeks seek after wisdom:

They would believe nothing but what could be proved to them by logic.

23-20. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. They call it foolishness, but it is wiser than men’s wisdom. God at his lowest (if we can imagine such a thing,) is wiser than man at his highest “and the weakness of God (if such a thing could be,) is stronger than men.”

26-28. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: —

Those that do not even seem to have an existence, those that are so despicable that men do not deign to take any account of them, these are the very things with which God shall break in pieces the many mighty errors of all the ages.

29-31 That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


Verses 25-31

In this chapter the apostle magnifies the cross of his Lord, as God’s greatest gift to the world; and as the highest glory of God’s self-revelation to men. He praises God that the Corinthian Christians have experienced the saving grace that comes by faith in the sinner’s sacrifice on Calvary. He rejoices, too, that that same grace has taught them to look forward to the Saviour’s return in glory. But he is compelled to reprove them for some divisions and rivalries that sprang from their glorying in gifts rather than graces. This leads him to remind them how God had disparaged mere worldly wisdom by saving mankind by the death of Jesus. And he brings all to a very practical application in the verses that we now ponder.

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

And yet you will perceive that the church is always looking after wise men after the flesh. If it can find these, it straightway cringes before them, and asks these learned doctors to teach it something more than the simplicities of Christ. This is the old disease of the church. May God cure her yet.

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

There are a few such. Remember how the Countess of Huntingdon used to say that she was very thankful for that letter “m,” for it does not say “not any noble,” but “not many noble are called.”

1 Corinthians 1:27-28. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not,

Seem scarcely to have an existence, not worth notice, not put down in the list of existences.

1 Corinthians 1:28-29. To bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.

This is what flesh always likes to do. Proud flesh we speak of, and all flesh is such. Flesh has a great tendency to swell, to corrupt; it is easily puffed up; but God will not have it so. What is flesh to God? Did not he make all things? Shall the thing formed boast itself against the Former?

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

In fact, we have everything in Christ; we have in his prophetic office wisdom, in his priestly office righteousness and sanctification, and in his royal office, in which he paid the price of our salvation, we have redemption.

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

Here is room for glorifying, and it is our duty to glory in God. Let us do so more and more!

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 103. 1 Corinthians 1:25-31.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/1-corinthians-1.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology