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CHAPTER 1.
1PAUL, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes a brother,
2To the church of God that is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in every place of theirs and ours.
3Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus,
5That in all things you are made rich in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6As the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,
7So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
8Who also will confirm you unto the end without crime, in the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9God is faithful: by whom you are called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
10Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.
11For it hath been signified unto me, my brethren, of you, by them that are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I am of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14I give God thanks, that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Caius;
15Lest any should say that you were baptized in my name.
16And I baptized also the household of Stephanus; besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.
18For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God.
19For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent I will reject.
20Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe.
22For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness:
24But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26For see your vocation, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble:
27But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong.
28And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are:
29That no flesh should glory in his sight.
30But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption:
31That, as it is written: He that glorieth, may glory in the Lord.
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1-2I, Paul, have been called and sent by Jesus, the Messiah, according to God’s plan, along with my friend Sosthenes. I send this letter to you in God’s church at Corinth, believers cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life. I include in my greeting all who call out to Jesus, wherever they live. He’s their Master as well as ours!
3May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.
4-6Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.
7-9Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.
The Cross: The Irony of God’s Wisdom
10I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.
11-12I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: You’re all picking sides, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.”
13-16I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.)
17God didn’t send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.
18-21The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,
I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered stupid—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.
22-25While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”
26-31Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”