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1This letter comes from Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the will of God, and from Sosthenes, our brother. 2It is sent to the church of God in Corinth, those who are being made right in Christ Jesus, called to live holy lives—and to everyone who worships the Lord Jesus Christ everywhere, the Lord both of them and of us.
3May you have grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I’m always thanking God for you because of the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus. 5Through him you have been made rich in everything, in all that you say and every aspect of what you know. 6In fact the testimony of Christ was proved valid in your experience, 7so that you’re not missing any spiritual gift as you wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also keep you strong to the very end, so you will be kept right until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is trustworthy who called you to share together in fellowship with his son Jesus Christ our Lord.
10Brothers and sisters, I plead with you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all agree and that you’re not divided. Instead develop a united attitude and purpose. 11For I have been told things about you, my brothers and sisters, by some of Chloe’s people—that you are quarreling among yourselves. 12Let me explain what I mean. You’re all making different claims: “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow Christ.” 13Is Christ divided? Did Paul die on a cross for you? Was it in the name of Paul that you were baptized?
14I’m grateful to God that I didn’t baptize any of you, except Crispus and Gaius, 15so nobody can claim they were baptized in my name. 16(Oh, and I also baptized the Stephanas family—I can’t think of anyone else). 17For Christ didn’t send me out to baptize, but to spread the good news, and not with eloquent human wisdom, otherwise the cross of Christ would be made powerless.#1:17. Or “ineffectual.” Literally, “emptied.”
18For the message of the cross is nonsense to those who are lost, but it’s the power of God to those of us who are saved. 19As Scripture says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will wipe out the cleverness of the clever.”#1:19. Probably referencing Isaiah 29:14.
20So how about the wise, the writers, and the philosophers of this age? Hasn’t God turned the wisdom of this world into foolishness? 21Since God in his wisdom allowed the world in its wisdom not to know God, it was God’s gracious plan that by the foolishness of the good news those who trusted in him would be saved. 22The Jews ask for miraculous signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but our message is of Christ killed on a cross—offensive to the Jews, and foolishness to the foreigners. 24However for those who are called by God, both Jews and foreigners, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than we are; and the weakness of God is stronger than we are.
26Brothers and sisters, remember your calling—and that this did not include many who are wise, humanly speaking; not many who are powerful; not many who are important. 27Instead God chose the things the world considers foolish to humiliate those who think they are wise. He chose the things the world considers weak to humiliate those who think they are strong. 28He chose the things that are unimportant and despised by the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,#1:28. This complicated verse is really saying that God uses things and people not viewed as important by this world to demonstrate what really is important. 29so that nobody should boast in God’s presence.
30It’s because of him that you live in Christ Jesus, who God made to be wisdom for us. He sets us right, keeps us right, and frees us. 31So as Scripture says, “Whoever wants to boast, let them boast in the Lord.”#1:31. Referencing Jer. 9:23.
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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.