- 1:1 From: Paul, picked by God to work as an apostle1 of Jesus the Messiah. And from our dear colleague Sosthenes.2
- 1:2 To: God’s church in Corinth.3 I’m talking about folks invited by God to join his people;4 these are folks devoted to God because of Jesus the Messiah. I’m also writing to people everywhere who call Jesus Christ their master. He’s their master and ours as well.
- 1:3 Peace to you. And kindness.5 May God our Father and our leader Jesus, the Messiah send both of those your way.
I thank God for you folks
- 1:4 You have a kindness that comes from God. It came special delivery, through the Messiah, Jesus. I’m always thanking God for you.
- 1:5 Through Jesus, you got rich in everything that’s important. That includes the words you speak and the knowledge behind them.
- 1:6 All of this happened after you started believing what you heard about Jesus.
- 1:7 So there it is. You’re loaded up with every possible spiritual gift as you wait for the return of our leader, Jesus the Messiah
- 1:8 Jesus the Messiah, our leader, is going to make sure you’ll be blame-free and good to go on the day he returns.
- 1:9 You can count on God. He’s the one who invited you to meet his Son and to get to know him—Jesus the Messiah, our leader.
Get along with each other
- 1:10 Dear family, I’m begging you in the name of our leader, Jesus the Messiah, work out your differences. Don’t let anything come between you. Find your common ground and reach an agreement on the judgments you make.
- 1:11 Some folks in Chloe’s home told me that some of you, my dear family, are arguing with each other.
- 1:12 Here’s what I’m talking about. Some of you are saying, “I’m with Paul.” Some say, “Well, I’m with Apollos."6 Others say, “I’m with Peter.”7 And others say, “I’m with the Messiah.”
- 1:13 Does the Messiah belong to just one group of people? Did I, Paul, die on the cross for you? Were you baptized in my name?
- 1:14 Thank God I didn’t baptize any of you people, except for Crispus8 and Gaius.9
- 1:15 I sure don’t want you saying you were baptized in my name.
- 1:16 I just remembered, I also baptized the family of Stephanas. Beyond that, I can’t remember if I baptized anyone else.
- 1:17 The Messiah didn’t send me on the road to baptize people. He sent me to preach the good news,10 but not with eloquence or wittiness that would detract from the message of the cross and diminish what the Messiah did there.
Crucifixion: the story that sounds crazy
- 1:18 The story of Jesus on the cross sounds insane to folks who have lost sight of God. But to folks getting rescued, it represents the power of the God who saves them.
- 1:19 The Bible says,
“The wisdom of the wise will amount to nothing. I’ll make sure of it. The intellect of the intellectuals will hide from them. I’ll take care of that, too.”11
- 1:20 Where’s the expert? Where’s the scholar? Where’s the top debater of the day? Hasn’t God made the top thinkers in this world look like fools?
- 1:21 God in his wisdom decided the world wouldn’t get to know him through their wisdom. Instead, God would save only those who believed the foolishness we preach.
- 1:22 Jews insisted we show them miracles. Non-Jews wanted words of wisdom.
- 1:23 But we preached about a crucified Messiah. To Jews, it looked like a trap. To non-Jews, it just looked stupid.
- 1:24 Yet everyone invited, Jews and non-Jews, will find the power and wisdom of God—in the Messiah.
God’s plan: foolish ideas will shame wise guys
- 1:25 Listen, the foolishness of God has more smarts to it than the wisest wisdom of humans. And the weakness of God has more muscle than the strongest strength of humans.
- 1:26 Think about your invitation from God, my family. As far as the world is concerned, not many of you are famous for your wise sayings. Not many are influential. Not many were born into royal families.
- 1:27 But here’s what God decided: foolish ideas would shame the wise, and weakness would break the strong.
- 1:28 What the world considers despicable, disgusting, and worthless is what God picked for this mission: show everyone that everything that seems important isn’t important at all.
- 1:29 No one is going to be bragging when they stand in front of God.
- 1:30 But you have this gift from God: you are a new creature in Jesus the Messiah. Jesus is our source of wisdom from God. And it’s through Jesus that we become acceptable to God,12 devoted to God,13 and saved from the harm we deserve because of our sins.14
- 1:31 The Bible says, “Let the person who wants to brag, brag about the Lord.”15
Apostle means “official messenger,” such as a delegate or an ambassador sent to deliver a message. The title “apostle” came to mean disciples hand-picked by Jesus to tell his story and spread his teachings. The title usually referred to the 12 original disciples of Jesus and to Paul, who met Jesus in a miraculous encounter while Paul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians (Acts 9:5).
It’s unclear if this is the same Corinth synagogue ruler the Jews “mobbed and beat” (Acts 18:17). It’s possible that he converted to the Christian faith, as did another synagogue ruler: Crispus (Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:14).
Corinth, in what is now Greece, was a busy transportation hub about a two-day walk south of Athens. Built on a narrow strip of land, it had nearby ports in two seas: the Aegean Sea in the east and the Ionian Sea in the west.
The Greek word is often translated as “saints.”
“Kindness” is often translated “grace.”
Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt who “had a wonderful way with words” (Acts 18:24). He visited Corinth after Paul left town for “the city of Ephesus” (Acts 19:1).
Paul uses the Aramaic version of Peter’s name: Cephas. It means “rock.”
Crispus may be the synagogue ruler of Corinth, mentioned in Acts 18:8.
Gaius may be one of Paul’s traveling companions, mentioned in Acts 19:29, or maybe someone who hosted Paul during his visit, possibly in Corinth (Romans 16:23).
The Greek word for “good news” is euangelizo, from which we get words such as evangelize and evangelical.
Isaiah 29:14. Paul’s paraphrase of Isaiah seems to come from the Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.
Paul said the Corinthians “got rich in everything that’s important…after you started believing what you heard about Jesus” (1:4-5). What do you think Paul is talking about? And whatever it is, does it still work that way today?
Paul told the church, “I’m begging you in the name of our leader, Jesus the Messiah, work out your differences. Don’t let anything come between you. Find your common ground and reach an agreement on the judgments you make” (1:10). What kind of disagreements do you think he might have been talking about?
What an odd thing for Paul to say: “Thank God I didn’t baptize any of you people” (1:14), with a few exceptions. Why would you guess he said something like that?
Paul said his mission was to preach “the Good News, but not with eloquence or wittiness that would detract from the message of the cross and diminish what the Messiah did there” (1:17). Why do you think Paul would suggest that there is something wrong with sermons that are eloquent and witty? Does eloquence and wit really diminish the story of what Jesus did, or does it help?
Paul says that as far as the Jews were concerned, the story of Jesus getting crucified “looked like a trap” (1:23). Other Bible translations call it a “stumbling block” (NASB) or a “scandal” (CEB) for the Jews. What do you think Paul was talking about? What about the crucifixion story of Jesus would have offended the Jews?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul complimented the Corinthians. “You have a kindness that comes from God. It came special delivery, through the Messiah, Jesus. I’m always thanking God for you” (1:4). What do you think the Corinthian kindness may have looked like? And when have you see that brand of kindness in our day?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul said “The story of Jesus on the cross sounds insane to folks who have lost sight of God” (1:18). The story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus still sounds like crazy talk to many people today. How should we respond to friends and relatives who call us out on that?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul has some wonderful one-liners in this chapter. Which one jumps out at you and smacks you in the face, for better or worse?