1 Corinthians 1
-Paul writes a response letter from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8, 19) to some disturbing situations he was hearing about from Chloe’s people (1 Corinthians 1:11). The main problem was division in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10), which seems to be the predominant theme throughout the 16 chapters of this lengthy letter. Paul had to cover a myriad of issues that ranged from their allegiances, to their puffed up attitudes, to their sexuality immorality and misunderstanding, to their lack of understanding with regards to spiritual gifts, to their questions about their future resurrection in Christ. Paul sternly at times corrects and admonishes this wayward group of saints, sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:2) with all the power and authority the Spirit had given him in the Name and apostleship of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior. He begins his letter in typical Pauline fashion by a warm spiritual greeting that included praise to the Lord and greetings in grace and peace. He was thankful for these beloved believers in the Corinthian church who had been impacted by their pagan culture more than they knew. Paul, through spiritual insight, paints a beautiful picture of teaching and wisdom in the power of God alone. Thus ends this brief introduction to the book.
-After Paul addresses the presenting problem of division in the church through quarrels, disunity, and diverse opinions (1 Corinthians 1:10), he chastises them for following leaders from the apostles and banding together in cliques under their respective teachings. He sarcastically rebukes them for following men rather than the Christ. The Christ group he includes could be the arrogant, puffed-up believers that would later in the letter be disciplined for their superior attitudes and haughty spirit. Paul also reiterates his call to preach and downplays the role of man’s authority through the comments he makes on baptizing the saints. His focus is on getting them to realize that it is Christ who should be glorified and the unifying influence on the church. *Application* We are just as guilty in this present age of thinking that our own particular church is the greatest with its man of God at the helm. Any pastor worth his salt will be like Paul and denounce this type of thinking for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God. We should be unified and supportive of fellow believers of different churches and even denominations if they believe in the Word of God. Don’t be arrogant and conceited in your local body. Don’t form cliques in your church that ostracize and promote the spirit of rejection. This is the kind of stuff God detests.
-Verse 18 begins a section that runs through the end of chapter 4 focusing on the wisdom of God verses the foolishness of man. The power of God is a key theme here, which is demonstrated by the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is foolishness to Jews because they sought signs and the cross was a stumbling block since Jesus was not yet the exalted Messiah they had so hoped and longed for. They missed His sanctifying, righteous and redemptive work as a suffering Servant in His first incarnation (1 Corinthians 1:30, Isaiah 53). The cross is foolishness to the Greeks (Hellenists, Gentiles) because they sought wisdom. Jesus was portrayed to the world as a crucified criminal, which was not wisdom in the Greek mind. But, to the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ (who was crucified) became the power (sign implication) and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). God’s foolishness is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25). Paul then asks his readers to remember where they came from, before they got arrogant in their prideful attitudes. God is a God who exalts humility and will shame the strong. He chooses the weak, the low, the despised in the world, even the things that are not (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). He does this so that no human being might boast in the presence of God as if they could accomplish anything on their own merit (1 Corinthians 1:29). If we are IN Christ, He has become our wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30). “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31).” *Application* God’s folly is wiser than our smartest move. You can’t top His plan, so don’t even try. Submit to His way and be saved by His power and wisdom! It is the cross that saves!
Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 1:10