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I. ADDRESS#Paul follows the conventional form for the opening of a Hellenistic letter (cf. Rom 1:1–7), but expands the opening with details carefully chosen to remind the readers of their situation and to suggest some of the issues the letter will discuss.
Greeting.
1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,#Called…by the will of God: Paul’s mission and the church’s existence are grounded in God’s initiative. God’s call, grace, and fidelity are central ideas in this introduction, emphasized by repetition and wordplays in the Greek. and Sosthenes our brother,#a. [1:1] Rom 1:1. 2to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.#b. [1:2] Acts 18:1–11. 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving.
4I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, 5that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, 6as the testimony#The testimony: this defines the purpose of Paul’s mission (see also 1 Cor 15:15 and the note on 1 Cor 2:1). The forms of his testimony include oral preaching and instruction, his letters, and the life he leads as an apostle. to Christ was confirmed among you, 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.#c. [1:7] Ti 2:13. 8He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus [Christ].#d. [1:8] Phil 1:6. 9God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.#e. [1:9] 1 Jn 1:3.
II. DISORDERS IN THE CORINTHIAN COMMUNITY
A. Divisions in the Church*
Groups and Slogans.
10I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.#f. [1:10] Phil 2:2. 11For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. 12I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to#I belong to: the activities of Paul and Apollos in Corinth are described in Acts 18. Cephas (i.e., “the Rock,” a name by which Paul designates Peter also in 1 Cor 3:22; 9:5; 15:5 and in Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) may well have passed through Corinth; he could have baptized some members of the community either there or elsewhere. The reference to Christ may be intended ironically here. Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”#g. [1:12] 3:4, 22; 16:12; Acts 18:24–28. 13#The reference to baptism and the contrast with preaching the gospel in v 17a suggest that some Corinthians were paying special allegiance to the individuals who initiated them into the community. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I give thanks [to God] that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,#h. [1:14] Acts 18:8 / Rom 16:23. 15so that no one can say you were baptized in my name. 16(I baptized the household of Stephanas also; beyond that I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)#i. [1:16] 16:15–17. 17#The basic theme of 1 Cor 1–4 is announced. Adherence to individual leaders has something to do with differences in rhetorical ability and also with certain presuppositions regarding wisdom, eloquence, and effectiveness (power), which Paul judges to be in conflict with the gospel and the cross. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,#Not with the wisdom of human eloquence: both of the nouns employed here involve several levels of meaning, on which Paul deliberately plays as his thought unfolds. Wisdom (sophia) may be philosophical and speculative, but in biblical usage the term primarily denotes practical knowledge such as is demonstrated in the choice and effective application of means to achieve an end. The same term can designate the arts of building (cf. 1 Cor 3:10) or of persuasive speaking (cf. 1 Cor 2:4) or effectiveness in achieving salvation. Eloquence (logos): this translation emphasizes one possible meaning of the term logos (cf. the references to rhetorical style and persuasiveness in 1 Cor 2:1, 4). But the term itself may denote an internal reasoning process, plan, or intention, as well as an external word, speech, or message. So by his expression ouk en sophia logou in the context of gospel preaching, Paul may intend to exclude both human ways of reasoning or thinking about things and human rhetorical technique. Human: this adjective does not stand in the Greek text but is supplied from the context. Paul will begin immediately to distinguish between sophia and logos from their divine counterparts and play them off against each other. so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.#j. [1:17] 2:1, 4.
Paradox of the Cross.
18The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.#k. [1:18] 2:14 / Rom 1:16. 19For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the learning of the learned I will set aside.”#l. [1:19] Is 29:14.
20Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?#m. [1:20] Is 19:12. 21#True wisdom and power are to be found paradoxically where one would least expect them, in the place of their apparent negation. To human eyes the crucified Christ symbolizes impotence and absurdity. For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,#n. [1:22] Mt 12:38; 16:1 / Acts 17:18–21. 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,#o. [1:23] 2:2; Gal 3:1 / Gal 5:11. 24but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, 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.
The Corinthians and Paul.
#The pattern of God’s wisdom and power is exemplified in their own experience, if they interpret it rightly (1 Cor 1:26–31), and can also be read in their experience of Paul as he first appeared among them preaching the gospel (1 Cor 2:1–5). 26Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,#p. [1:27] Jas 2:5. 28and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, 29so that no human being might boast#“Boasting (about oneself)” is a Pauline expression for the radical sin, the claim to autonomy on the part of a creature, the illusion that we live and are saved by our own resources. “Boasting in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:31), on the other hand, is the acknowledgment that we live only from God and for God. before God.#q. [1:29] Eph 2:9. 30It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,#r. [1:30] Rom 4:17 / 6:11; Rom 3:24–26; 2 Cor 5:21 / Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; 1 Thes 5:23. 31so that, as it is written, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”#s. [1:31] Jer 9:23; 2 Cor 10:17.
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1Greetings from Paul. I was chosen to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. God chose me because that is what he wanted. Greetings also from Sosthenes, our brother in Christ.
2To God’s church in Corinth, you who have been made holy because you belong to Christ Jesus. You were chosen to be God’s holy people together with all people everywhere who trust in the Lord#1:2 who trust in the Lord Literally, “who call on the name of the Lord,” meaning to show faith in him by worshiping or praying to him for help. Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.
3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul Gives Thanks to God
4I always thank my God for you because of the grace that he has given you through Christ Jesus. 5In him you have been blessed in every way. You have been blessed in all your speaking and all your knowledge. 6This proves that what we told you about Christ is true. 7Now you have every gift from God while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to come again. 8He will keep you strong until the end so that on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes, you will be free from all blame. 9God is faithful. He is the one who has chosen you to share life with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Stop Arguing With Each Other
10Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg all of you to agree with each other. You should not be divided into different groups. Be completely joined together again with the same kind of thinking and the same purpose.
11My brothers and sisters, some members of Chloe’s family told me that there are arguments among you. 12This is what I mean: One of you says, “I follow Paul,” and someone else says, “I follow Apollos.” Another says, “I follow Peter,”#1:12 Peter Literally, “Cephas,” the Aramaic name for Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. Both names mean “rock.” Also in 3:22; 9:6; 15:5. and someone else says, “I follow Christ.” 13Christ cannot be divided into different groups. It wasn’t Paul who died on the cross for you, was it? Were you baptized in Paul’s name? 14I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15I am thankful because now no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16(I also baptized the family of Stephanas, but I don’t remember that I myself baptized any others.) 17Christ did not give me the work of baptizing people. He gave me the work of telling the Good News. But he sent me to tell the Good News without using clever speech, which would take away the power that is in the cross#1:17 cross Paul uses the cross as a picture of the Good News, the story of Christ’s death to pay for people’s sins. The cross (Christ’s death) was God’s way to save people. of Christ.
God’s Power and Wisdom in Christ Jesus
18The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise.
I will confuse the understanding of the intelligent.” Isaiah 29:14
20So what does this say about the philosopher, the law expert, or anyone in this world who is skilled in making clever arguments? God has made the wisdom of the world look foolish. 21This is what God in his wisdom decided: Since the world did not find him through its own wisdom, he used the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe it.
22The Jews ask for miraculous signs, and the Greeks want wisdom. 23But this is the message we tell everyone: Christ was killed on a cross. This message is a problem for Jews, and to other people it is nonsense. 24But Christ is God’s power and wisdom to the people God has chosen, both Jews and Greeks. 25Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom. Even the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26Brothers and sisters, God chose you to be his. Think about that! Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom. Not many of you had great influence, and not many of you came from important families. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28And God chose what the world thinks is not important—what the world hates and thinks is nothing. He chose these to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29God did this so that no one can stand before him and boast about anything. 30It is God who has made you part of Christ Jesus. And Christ has become for us wisdom from God. He is the reason we are right with God and pure enough to be in his presence. Christ is the one who set us free from sin. 31So, as the Scriptures say, “Whoever boasts should boast only about the Lord.”#Quote from Jer. 9:24.