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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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1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
2To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and ours:
3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving
4I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5For in him you have been enriched in every way – with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge – 6God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
A church divided over leaders
10I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,#1:10 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verses 11 and 26; and in 2:1; 3:1; 4:6; 6:8; 7:24, 29; 10:1; 11:33; 12:1; 14:6, 20, 26, 39; 15:1, 6, 50, 58; 16:15, 20. in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: one of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas#1:12 That is, Peter’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’
13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no-one can say that you were baptised in my name. 16(Yes, I also baptised the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptised anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Christ crucified is God’s power and wisdom
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’#1:19 Isaiah 29:14
20Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, 29so that no-one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’#1:31 Jer. 9:24