1 Corinthians, lesson 2

1 Corinthians 1-31, Salutation, spiritual gifts, factionalism, power of the gospel, glory in Christ

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, may the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You. We pray for the presence, anointing, and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in our journey of faith, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

VV 1-3, 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The author identified himself as Paul. He spelled out his credentials, an apostle of Jesus Christ called by the will of God. He also acknowledged, Sosthenes, his co-worker. Acts 18:7 mentioned Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, who was beaten by the Greeks. Most scholars believed Sosthenes in Acts 18:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:1 is the same person.

Acts 18:17, “Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things”.

VV 4-9, 4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul prayed and thanked God for showing grace and favour to the Corinthian Christians by enriching them in knowledge, testimonies, and spiritual gifts. Paul spoke on Christ’s second coming, the faithfulness of God, and the divine election of the Corinthians Christians into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ.

VV 10-13, 10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians to close ranks by unanimity in speech, action, and judgment. Chloe’s household had informed Paul regarding division, factionalism, sectarianism, and personality cult in the church. Some members gave allegiance to Paul, some to Apollos, some to Cephas, and some to Christ.

VV 14-17, 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Paul downplayed the role of baptism. He only remembered baptising Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. Paul’s calling and priority were preaching the gospel and not baptising the believers.

VV 18-21, 18 For the message of 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 bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

The gospel message of the cross is the power and wisdom of God to save unbelievers. The gospel is foolishness to non-Christians, who do not understand the wisdom of God. Concerning the gospel message, Paul asked four rhetorical questions. The foolishness of the world is the wisdom of God. God used the foolish message of the gospel to save the “wise’’ people of the world.

VV 22-24, 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who 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.

Jews sought after signs, Greeks sought after wisdom, but Christians preached Christ crucified. Christ is a stumbling block to the Jews, foolishness to the Greeks but to Christians, it is the power and wisdom of God to save lives. In God’s economy, there is wisdom in foolishness and power in weakness.

VV 26-31, 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

The Corinthian Christians were not wise, strong, or noble. God chose the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, the dishonourable to shame the honourable, the ignoble to shame the noble, and the rejected to shame the accepted so that no one can boast in His presence. Let us glory in Christ, the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of God.

Application:

Paul was a prayer warrior who prayed for everyone. We should emulate the prayer life of Paul and pray for all our contacts.

We should avoid factionalism, sectarianism, and personality cult in the church. We owe our allegiance to Christ alone.

We should preach the gospel because it is the power and wisdom of God to save lives.

God chose weak and ordinary people to serve Him in the kingdom. We should not judge people by their outward appearance, 1 Samuel 16:7.

1 Samuel 16:7, But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Pauline epistle of 1 Corinthians. Thank You for justification by grace through faith in Christ. Thank You for enriching us in the knowledge and revelation of Christ. Keep us blameless until the day of Christ’s second coming. Thank You for divine election into the fellowship of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.