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1 PAUL, SUMMONED by the will and purpose of God to be an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church (assembly) of God which is in Corinth, to those consecrated and purified and made holy in Christ Jesus, [who are] selected and called to be saints (God's people), together with all those who in any place call upon and give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
3 Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) be to you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
5 [So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning].
6 In this way [our] witnessing concerning Christ (the Messiah) was so confirmed and established and made sure in you
7 That you are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking in any special spiritual endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you wait and watch [constantly living in hope] for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to all.
8 And He will establish you to the end [keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
9 God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
10 But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments.
11 For it has been made clear to me, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions and wrangling and factions among you.
12 What I mean is this, that each one of you [either] says, I belong to Paul, or I belong to Apollos, or I belong to Cephas (Peter), or I belong to Christ.
13 Is Christ (the Messiah) divided into parts? Was Paul crucified on behalf of you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,
15 Lest anyone should say that I baptized in my own name.
16 [Yes] I did baptize the household of Stephanas also. More than these, I do not remember that I baptized anyone.
17 For Christ (the Messiah) sent me out not to baptize but [to evangelize by] preaching the glad tidings (the Gospel), and that not with verbal eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of force and emptied of its power and rendered vain (fruitless, void of value, and of no effect).
18 For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will baffle and render useless and destroy the learning of the learned and the philosophy of the philosophers and the cleverness of the clever and the discernment of the discerning; I will frustrate and nullify [them] and bring [them] to nothing. [Isa. 29:14.]
20 Where is the wise man (the philosopher)? Where is the scribe (the scholar)? Where is the investigator (the logician, the debater) of this present time and age? Has not God shown up the nonsense and the folly of this world's wisdom?
21 For when the world with all its earthly wisdom failed to perceive and recognize and know God by means of its own philosophy, God in His wisdom was pleased through the foolishness of preaching [salvation, procured by Christ and to be had through Him], to save those who believed (who clung to and trusted in and relied on Him).
22 For while Jews [demandingly] ask for signs and miracles and Greeks pursue philosophy and wisdom,
23 We preach Christ (the Messiah) crucified, [preaching which] to the Jews is a scandal and an offensive stumbling block [that springs a snare or trap], and to the Gentiles it is absurd and utterly unphilosophical nonsense.
24 But to those who are called, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), Christ [is] the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.
25 [This is] because the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men.
26 For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth.
27 [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.
28 And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,
29 So that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God.
30 But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin].
31 So then, as it is written, Let him who boasts and proudly rejoices and glories, boast and proudly rejoice and glory in the Lord. [Jer. 9:24.]
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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.