1 Corinthians, 1
A Greetings & Thanksgivings
Greetings from Paul
1: Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2: Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s prayers for them
4: I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5: That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6: Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9: God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
B Concerning conditions in the Church
Call to Unity
10: Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11: For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12: Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13: Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? 14: I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15: Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 16: And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 17: For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
The simplicity of the Gospel
18: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19: For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20: Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21: For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22: For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24: But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25: Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26: For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28: And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29: That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30: But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Corinth was a crucial church in NT times. The city was situated on the hills overlooking one of the most important ports of the area. An isthmus linked Macedonia and Greece and the sailors instead of making the perilous journey around the coast of Greece dragged the boats and goods over land. So Corinth and Cenchrea became very cosmopolitan places as all trade between the eastern and western Mediterranean funnelled through Corinth. Today we have Airports and Motorway Service stations and Ports that have the same function. Paul established this church and he had maintained close links with them. Paul addresses them as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. He was an apostle because God called him to the Office. Paul included Sosthenes as a co writer. Paul is careful to address the whole letter to the whole church but Paul enlarges the letter to be addressed to all churches for their edification and learning. Paul gives thanks to God on their behalf for the salvation which they have received and he prays that they might be enriched in Christ in all things. Paul says God has blessed you with all spiritual gifts while you wait the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he says that God will bring them right to the end and that they will be presented blameless when Christ returns for his church. And this is all based on the faithfulness of God who has called the Corinthians into fellowship with Christ. Paul believed that ‘once saved always saved’ and that this was based on the faithfulness of God. Paul then begins one of the biggest letters in the NT and the issues he addresses are some of the most important. The very first thing he takes on is division in the body of Christ. He calls on them to be like minded and to agree as much as they are able to, in the Lord. Paul says that some of the members of the household of Choe have told him that there are sects growing up in the church. Some are saying ‘l follow Paul’, others Apollos, some Peter and even worse still - Christ. Paul goes to task on the whole evil idea of party spirit. First he says, ‘Is Christ divided’? ‘Did Paul die for you’? Or ‘were you baptised in the name of Paul’? God forbid. He says – I thank God that l didn’t baptise any of you, apart from Gaius and Crispus. In case any should say that l baptised them in my name. And Paul says l baptised the household of Stephanas apart from that Paul says he doesn’t think he baptised anyone else. I didn’t come to baptise but to preach the Gospel. And not with clever words in case the Cross of Christ should loose its impact. Because the preaching of the cross is to those who hear it utter foolishness but to those who are saved it is the very power of God to salvation. God has prophesied that he will destroy the wisdom of the wise and make the understanding of the clever nothing at all. Where in the church is the intellectual? Who are the scribes? Who are the professional debaters of the world? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of this world foolishness? Because this world by its wisdom it did not discover God. It is in ‘the foolishness of preaching’ that God revels himself to men. The Jews traditionally look for signs from God and the Greeks traditionally look for logical arguments. But in complete contrast to that we preach ‘Christ Crucified’. To the Jews this is something that causes them to stumble. And the Greeks think this is utter foolishness. However to us who are called by God both Jews and Gentiles – Christ is the Power and Wisdom of God. You see the foolishness of God is infinitely wiser than the height of men’s wisdom. And God weakness is stronger than the strongest of men. So can you now see that not many of the really clever men become Christians and not many of the powerful men or those who have high office become Christians. God has specifically chosen the fools of this world to silence the intellectuals. And God has chosen the ones who are weak to overcome those who are strong. The things which are very basic God has chosen. The things that are despised, weak and even dead, are the things God has chosen to bless. Why? Simply, so that no one may stand in his presence in pride. In Christ you Corinthians have been made wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. So that you will not glory in yourselves but only in the Lord.