1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians 1:1-31 . THE INSCRIPTION; THANKSGIVING FOR THE SPIRITUAL STATE OF THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH; REPROOF OF PARTY DIVISIONS: HIS OWN METHOD OF PREACHING ONLY CHRIST.

16. household of Stephanas--"The first-fruits of Achaia," that is, among the first converted there ( 1 Corinthians 16:15 1 Corinthians 16:17 ). It is likely that such "households" included infants ( Acts 16:33 ). The history of the Church favors this view, as infant baptism was the usage from the earliest ages.

17. Paul says this not to depreciate baptism; for he exalts it most highly ( Romans 6:3 ). He baptized some first converts; and would have baptized more, but that his and the apostles' peculiar work was to preach the Gospel, to found by their autoptic testimony particular churches, and then to superintend the churches in general.
sent me--literally, "as an apostle."
not to baptize--even in Christ's name, much less in my own.
not with wisdom of words--or speech; philosophical reasoning set off with oratorical language and secular learning, which the Corinthians set so undue a value upon ( 1 Corinthians 1:5 , 1 Corinthians 2:1 1 Corinthians 2:4 ) in Apollos, and the want of which in Paul they were dissatisfied with ( 2 Corinthians 10:10 ).
cross of Christ--the sum and substance of the Gospel ( 1 Corinthians 1:23 , 2:2 ), Christ crucified.
be made of none effect--literally, "be made void" ( Romans 4:14 ); namely, by men thinking more of the human reasonings and eloquence in which the Gospel was set forth, than of the Gospel itself of Christ crucified, the sinner's only remedy, and God's highest exhibition of love.

18. preaching, &c.--literally, "the word," or speech as to the cross; in contrast to the "wisdom of words" (so called), 1 Corinthians 1:17 .
them that perish--rather, "them that are perishing," namely, by preferring human "wisdom of words" to the doctrine of the "cross of Christ." It is not the final state that is referred to; but, "them that are in the way of perishing." So also in 2 Corinthians 2:15 2 Corinthians 2:16 .
us which are saved--In the Greek the collocation is more modest, "to them that are being saved (that are in the way of salvation) as," that is, to which class we belong.
power of God--which includes in it that it is the wisdom of God" ( 1 Corinthians 1:24 ). God's powerful instrument of salvation; the highest exhibition of God's power ( Romans 1:16 ). What seems to the world "weakness" in God's plan of salvation ( 1 Corinthians 1:25 ), and in its mode of delivery by His apostle ( 1 Corinthians 2:3 ) is really His mighty "power." What seems "foolishness" because wanting man's "wisdom of words" ( 1 Corinthians 1:17 ), is really the highest "wisdom of God" ( 1 Corinthians 1:24 ).

19. I will destroy--slightly altered from the Septuagint, Isaiah 29:14 . The Hebrew is, "The wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." Paul by inspiration gives the sense of the Spirit, by making GOD the cause of their wisdom perishing, &c., "I will destroy," &c.
understanding of the prudent--literally, "of the understanding ones."

20. Where--nowhere; for God "brings them to naught" ( 1 Corinthians 1:19 ).
the wise--generally.
the scribe--Jewish [ALFORD].
the disputer--Greek [ALFORD]. Compare the Jew and Greek of this world contrasted with the godly wise, 1 Corinthians 1:22 1 Corinthians 1:23 . VITRINGA thinks the reference is to the Jewish discourses in the synagogue, daraschoth, from a Hebrew root "to dispute." Compare "questions," Acts 26:3 , Titus 3:9 . If so, "wise" refers to Greek wisdom (compare 1 Corinthians 1:22 ). Paul applies Isaiah 33:18 here in a higher sense; there the primary reference was to temporal deliverance, here to external; 1 Corinthians 1:22 , which is in threefold opposition to 1 Corinthians 1:18 there, sanctions this higher application; the Lord in the threefold character being the sole ground of glorying to His people.
of this world . . . of this world--rather, "dispensation (or age) . . . world"; the Greek words are distinct. The former is here this age or worldly order of things in a moral point of view, as opposed to the Christian dispensation or order of things. The latter is the world viewed externally and cosmically.
made foolish--shown the world's philosophy to be folly, because it lacks faith in Christ crucified [CHRYSOSTOM]. Has treated it as folly, and not used its help in converting and saving men ( 1 Corinthians 1:26 1 Corinthians 1:27 ) [ESTIUS].

21. after that--rather, "whereas."
in the wisdom of God--in the wise arrangement of God.
world by wisdom--rather, "by its wisdom," or "its philosophy" ( John 1:10 , Romans 1:28 ).
knew not God--whatever other knowledge it attained ( Acts 17:23 Acts 17:27 ). The deistic theory that man can by the light of nature discover his duty to God, is disproved by the fact that man has never discovered it without revelation. All the stars and moon cannot make it day; that is the prerogative of the sun. Nor can nature's highest gifts make the moral day arise; that is the office of Christ. Even the Jew missed this knowledge, in so far as he followed after mere carnal world wisdom.
it pleased God--Paul refers to Jesus' words ( Luke 10:21 ).
by the foolishness of preaching--by that preaching which the world (unbelieving Jews and Gentiles alike) deem foolishness.
save them that believe--( Romans 1:16 ).

22. For--literally, "Since," seeing that. This verse illustrates how the "preaching" of Christ crucified came to be deemed "foolishness" ( 1 Corinthians 1:21 ).
a sign--The oldest manuscripts read "signs." The singular was a later correction from Matthew 12:38 , 16:1 , John 2:18 . The signs the Jews craved for were not mere miracles, but direct tokens from heaven that Jesus was Messiah ( Luke 11:16 ).
Greeks seek . . . wisdom--namely, a philosophic demonstration of Christianity. Whereas Christ, instead of demonstrative proof, demands faith on the ground of His word, and of a reasonable amount of evidence that the alleged revelation is His word. Christianity begins not with solving intellectual difficulties, but with satisfying the heart that longs for forgiveness. Hence not the refined Greeks, but the theocratic Jews were the chosen organ for propagating revelation. Again, intellectual Athens ( Acts 17:18-21 , &c.). received the Gospel less readily than commercial Corinth.

23. we--Paul and Apollos.
Christ crucified--The Greek expresses not the mere fact of His crucifixion, but the permanent character acquired by the transaction, whereby He is now a Saviour ( Galatians 3:1 ) crucified was the stone on which the Jews stumbled ( Matthew 21:44 ). The opposition of Jew and Gentile alike shows that a religion so seemingly contemptible in its origin could not have succeeded if it had not been divine.
unto the Greeks--the oldest manuscripts read "unto the Gentiles."

24. called--(compare 1 Corinthians 1:26 ). The same class as the "us which are (being) saved" ( 1 Corinthians 1:18 ); the elect, who have obeyed the call; called effectually ( Romans 8:28 Romans 8:30 ).
Christ--"Crucified" is not here added, because when the offense of the cross is overcome, "Christ" is received in all His relations, not only in His cross, but in His life and His future kingdom.
power--so meeting all the reasonable requirements of the Jews who sought "a sign." The cross (the death of a slave), which to the Jews (looking for a temporal Messiah) was a "stumbling-block," is really "the power of God" to the salvation of all who believe.
wisdom of God--so really exhibiting, and in the highest degree (if they would but see it), that which the Greeks sought after--wisdom ( Colossians 2:3 ).

25. foolishness of God--that is, God's plan of salvation which men deem "foolishness."
weakness of God--Christ "crucified through weakness" ( 2 Corinthians 13:4 , the great stumbling-block of the Jews), yet "living by the power of God." So He perfects strength out of the weakness of His servants ( 1 Corinthians 2:3 , 2 Corinthians 12:9 ).

26. ye see--rather, from the prominence of the verb in the Greek, "see" or "consider" (imperative) [ALFORD from Vulgate and IRENÆUS].
your calling . . . are called--Instead of the words in italics, supplied by English Version, supply, "were your callers." What Paul is dwelling on (compare 1 Corinthians 1:27 1 Corinthians 1:28 ) is the weakness of the instrumentality which the Lord employed to convert the world [HINDS and WHATELY; so ANSELM]. However, English Version accords well with 1 Corinthians 1:24 . "The whole history of the expansion of the Church is a progressive victory of the ignorant over the learned, the lowly over the lofty, until the emperor himself laid down his crown before the cross of Christ" [OLSHAUSEN].
wise . . . after the flesh--the wisdom of this world acquired by human study without the Spirit. (Contrast Matthew 16:17 ).

27. the foolish things--a general phrase for all persons and things foolish. Even things (and those, too, foolish things) are chosen by God to confound persons, (and those too persons who are wise). This seems to me the force of the change from neuter to masculine.
to confound--The Greek is stronger, "that He might confound (or put to shame)." God confounds the wise by effecting through His instruments, without human wisdom, that the worldly wise, with it, cannot effect, namely, to bring men to salvation.
chosen . . . chosen--The repetition indicates the gracious deliberateness of God's purpose ( James 2:5 ).

28. yea, and things which are not--Yea is not in the Greek. Also some of the oldest manuscripts omit "and." Thus the clause, "things which are not" (are regarded as naught), is in apposition with "foolish . . . weak . . . base (that is, lowborn) and despised things." God has chosen all four, though regarded as things that are not, to bring to naught things that are.

29. no flesh . . . glory--For they who try to glory (boast) because of human greatness and wisdom, are "confounded" or put to shame ( 1 Corinthians 1:27 ). Flesh, like "the flower of the field," is beautiful, but frail ( Isaiah 40:6 ).
in his presence--We are to glory not before Him, but in Him [BENGEL].

30. But . . . ye--in contrast to them that "glory" in worldly wisdom and greatness.
of him are--not of yourselves ( Ephesians 2:8 ), but of Him ( Romans 11:36 ). From Him ye are (that is, have spiritual life, who once were spiritually among the "things which are not." 1 Corinthians 1:28 ).
in Christ--by living union with Him. Not "in the flesh" ( 1 Corinthians 1:26 1 Corinthians 1:29 ).
of God--from God; emanating from Him and sent by Him.
is made unto us--has been made to us, to our eternal gain.
wisdom--unattainable by the worldly mode of seeking it ( 1 Corinthians 1:19 1 Corinthians 1:20 ; contrast Colossians 2:3 Proverbs 8:1-36 Isaiah 9:6 ). By it we become "wise unto salvation," owing to His wisdom in originating and executing the plan, whereas once we were "fools."
righteousness--the ground of our justification ( Jeremiah 23:5 Jeremiah 23:6 , Romans 4:25 , 2 Corinthians 5:21 ); whereas once we were "weak" ( Romans 5:6 ). Isaiah 42:21 , 45:24 .
sanctification--by His Spirit; whereas formerly we were "base." Hereafter our righteousness and sanctification alike shall be both perfect and inherent. Now the righteousness wherewith we are justified is perfect, but not inherent; that wherewith we are sanctified is inherent, but not perfect [HOOKER]. Now sanctification is perfect in principle, but not in attainment. These two are joined in the Greek as forming essentially but one thing, as distinguished from the "wisdom" in devising and executing the plan for us ("abounded toward us in all wisdom," Ephesians 1:8 ), and "redemption," the final completion of the scheme in the deliverance of the body (the position of "redemption" last shows that this limited sense is the one intended here). Luke 21:28 , Romans 8:23 , Ephesians 1:14 , 4:30 .
redemption--whereas once we were "despised."

31. glory in . . . Lord--( Jeremiah 9:23 Jeremiah 9:24 )--in opposition to "flesh glorying in His presence" ( 1 Corinthians 1:29 ). In contrast to morbid slavish self-abasement, Paul joins with humility the elevating consciousness of our true dignity in Christ. He who glories is to glory in the Lord, not in the flesh, nor in the world.

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