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Salutation
1 From Paul,#tn Grk “Paul.” The word “From” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter. called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus#tc Many important mss, as well as several others (א A Ψ 1739 1881 Ï sy), have a reversed order of these words and read “Jesus Christ” rather than “Christ Jesus” (Ì46 B D F G 33 it). The meaning is not affected in either case, but the reading “Christ Jesus” is preferred both because it has somewhat better attestation and because it is slightly more difficult and thus more likely the original (a scribe who found it would be prone to change it to the more common expression). At the same time, Paul is fond of the order “Christ Jesus.” As well, the later Pauline letters almost uniformly use this order in the salutations. Thus, on both external and internal grounds, “Christ Jesus” is the preferred reading here. by the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother, 2 to the church of God that is in Corinth,#map For location see JP1-C2; JP2-C2; JP3-C2; JP4-C2. to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.#tn Grk “theirs and ours.” 3 Grace and peace to you#tn Grk “Grace to you and peace.” from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Thanksgiving
4 I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus. 5 For you were made rich#sn Made rich refers to how God richly blessed the Corinthians with an abundance of spiritual gifts (cf. v. 7). in every way in him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge#sn Speech and knowledge refer to the spiritual gifts God had blessed them with (as v. 7 confirms). Paul will discuss certain abuses of their gifts in chapters 12-14, but he thanks God for their giftedness.6 just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed among you – 7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation#sn The revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ refers to the Lord’s return, when he will be revealed (cf. the reference to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ in v. 8). of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He#tn Grk “who,” referring to Christ. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation. will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Divisions in the Church
10 I urge you, brothers and sisters,#tn Grk “brothers,” but the Greek word may be used for “brothers and sisters” or “fellow Christians” as here (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 1, where considerable nonbiblical evidence for the plural ἀδελφοί [adelfoi] meaning “brothers and sisters” is cited). by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together,#tn Grk “that you all say the same thing.” to end your divisions,#tn Grk “that there be no divisions among you.” and to be united by the same mind and purpose.#tn Grk “that you be united in/by the same mind and in/by the same purpose.” 11 For members of Chloe’s household have made it clear to me, my brothers and sisters,#tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10. that there are quarrels#tn Or “rivalries, disputes.” among you. 12 Now I mean this, that#tn Or “And I say this because.” each of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he?#tn Questions prefaced with μή (mh) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here the tag is “was he?”). Or were you in fact baptized in the name of Paul?#tn This third question marks a peak in which Paul’s incredulity at the Corinthians’ attitude is in focus. The words “in fact” have been supplied in the translation to make this rhetorical juncture clear. 14 I thank God#tc The oldest and most important witnesses to this text, as well as a few others (א* B 6 1739 sams bopt), lack the words τῷ θεῷ (tw qew, “God”), while the rest have them. An accidental omission could well account for the shorter reading, especially since θεῷ would have been written as a nomen sacrum (eucaristwtwqMw). However, one might expect to see, in some mss at least, a dropping of the article but not the divine name. Internally, the Pauline introductory thanksgivings elsewhere always include τῷ θεῷ after εὐχαριστῶ (eucaristw, “I thank”; cf. Rom 1:8; 1 Cor 1:4; Phil 1:3; Phlm 4; in the plural, note Col 1:3; 1 Thess 1:2). However, both the fact that this is already used in 1 Cor 1:4 (thus perhaps motivating scribes to add it ten verses later), and that in later portions of his letters Paul does not consistently use the collocation of εὐχαριστῶ with τῷ θεῷ (Rom 16:4; 1 Cor 10:30), might give one pause. Still, nowhere else in the corpus Paulinum do we see a sentence begin with εὐχαριστῶ without an accompanying τῷ θεῷ. A decision is difficult, but on balance it is probably best to retain the words. that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name! 16 (I also baptized the household of Stephanus. Otherwise, I do not remember whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless.#tn Grk “would not be emptied.”
The Message of the Cross
18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.”#sn A quotation from Isa 29:14. 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Mosaic law?#tn Grk “the scribe.” The traditional rendering of γραμματεύς (grammateu") as “scribe” does not communicate much to the modern English reader, for whom the term might mean “professional copyist,” if it means anything at all. The people referred to here were recognized experts in the law of Moses and in traditional laws and regulations. Thus “expert in the Mosaic law” comes closer to the meaning for the modern reader. Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. 22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 23 but we preach about a crucified Christ,#tn Or “Messiah”; Grk “preach Christ [Messiah] crucified,” giving the content of the message. a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,#tn Grk “than men.” and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.#tn Grk “than men.”
26 Think about the circumstances of your call,#tn Grk “Think about your calling.” “Calling” in Paul’s writings usually refers to God’s work of drawing people to faith in Christ. The following verses show that “calling” here stands by metonymy for their circumstances when they became Christians, leading to the translation “the circumstances of your call.” brothers and sisters.#tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10. Not many were wise by human standards,#tn Grk “according to the flesh.” not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position.#tn The Greek word ευγενής (eugenh") refers to the status of being born into nobility, wealth, or power with an emphasis on the privileges and benefits that come with that position. 27 But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. 28 God chose#tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, 29 so that no one can boast in his presence. 30 He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus,#tn Grk “of him you are in Christ Jesus.” who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”#sn A quotation from Jer 9:24. The themes of Jer 9 have influenced Paul’s presentation in vv. 26-31. Jeremiah calls upon the wise, the strong, and the wealthy not to trust in their resources but in their knowledge of the true God – and so to boast in the Lord. Paul addresses the same three areas of human pride.
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The divine calling
1I Paul was divinely chosen to be the Apostle of Jesus Christ. In my calling the will of God was made manifest, and in this high office and appointment I now address you who are in Corinth, and with me Sosthenes, brother in the faith. 2We speak to you who have also been sharers in this divine calling, whose lives have been enlarged and purified in Christ Jesus, who have received the holiness that comes from faith — and with you in this appeal I associate all who, in whatever place they may be, wherever we may be, do together with us invoke his name, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. 3May grace come to you, may peace abide with you from God, who is the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4Because of the grace that has come to you I feel incessant gratitude to God. 5You have found the riches of the Christ; the word and the knowledge of God are spoken and fulfilled in your midst; 6the witness of the Christ is there; it is unassailable evidence; 7and the full measure of His gifts is counted in you, nothing is wanting for your completion, whilst you wait for that unveiling and revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8Yes, there will be no faltering, no failure in his support of you, till you are made perfect, in the “end,” “the day” of our Lord Jesus Christ, the day of perfect revelation. 9For God, through whom this calling, this share in His son Jesus Christ our Lord has come to you, is faithful in all His ways.
No room for disunity in Christ
10Through this name of Jesus Christ our Lord, I urge you — for that is the secret of his name — to have one mind, one persuasion and precept amongst you, to be all of one mind with one idea. O let schisms and divisions be unknown to you, for your perfection is in unity. 11Strifes there are amongst you, it has come to my knowledge through the members who meet in Chloe's house. 12They tell me some describe themselves as disciples of Paul, others of Apollos, others of Cephas, others of Christ — 13but Christ is not divided. I was not crucified for you, nor were you baptised into my name. 14-15For this very reason I was careful not to baptise disciples personally amongst you. It is to me a cause of gratitude to God that I baptised only Crispus and Gaius, 16and also the household of Stephanas — not another soul, I think, did I baptise, and purposely, that it might not seem that I was making disciples. 17Christ Jesus sent me not to baptise, but to make known the word of joy, not intellectually, not with the persuasive brilliance of personality and personal influence, lest the cross of the Christ should be obliterated and ruled out.
The foolishness of worldly knowledge
18Cleverness, human wisdom, intellectual strength do not accomplish the mighty works of the Gospel. Ours is the word of the cross; it saves us; there is in it the power of God; but to those who are in the power of death and subject to its ever-increasing dominion, this word appears as folly, as an impertinence. 19And so the word of the Bible comes true:— “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, I will make nothing of the intelligence of those who profess to know.” (Isa xxix. 14.) 20Where is the wise, the scribe, the learned investigator of material things? God makes the wisdom of the world foolishness, 21forasmuch as it was in that wisdom that the world lost the knowledge of God, it was by reason of that that its eyes were closed, and lo! the wisdom of God now appearing is proclaimed as a thing foolish in the sight of that old wisdom; but the preaching of this heavenly word saves, it saves all who have faith in it, who accept it spiritually. It does not commend itself to the old thought. 22The Jews demand miracles and signs, the Greeks ask first and last for wisdom, 23but it is the crucified Christ that we preach, and that appears a fool's message to the Greeks, and a scandal to the Jews. 24Think of it! God's power, God's wisdom, the Christ, takes on that semblance in the sight of men. 25But there is more wisdom in God's foolishness than in men's cleverness, more strength in God's weakness than in human power. 26Not many wise, powerful, highly placed are found in our number. 27Why? Because this calling of God is not on the lines of anything which the world sets up as important. 28God would not have anything of the flesh to plume itself on a value of its own. Thus it was that He chose that which was weak, despised, unsupported by birth and tradition, that which in the eyes of the world had no existence at all. 29This He chose and by its means He dismantles all the world's glory, leaving us faith alone. 30For in Christ Jesus your being comes from him, not from the world, and he is your wisdom, your righteousness, your cleansing and your redemption coming to you from God alone, from Him apart from all else, 31in order that as Jeremiah says, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (Jer. ix. 24.) By that saying the prophet referred to the distinction between the talents and qualities that are believed to belong to the flesh and the personal self, and the grace and power that flow from the Spirit only.