1 Corinthians – Introductory & Background Information 1 2

 

A.   Some information on this book.

      1.   It was a letter, written by Paul, probably in the mid-50's AD to the church at Corinth, apparently from Ephesus from internal evidence, notwithstanding the note in small print at the end of the book in some versions.

 

      2.   Summary of the letter 3

             a.   This letter was written to this church to curb division, urge morality and encourage them to steadfastness in view of the general resurrection from the dead.

             b.   Key verse: Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

             c.   One outline:

                   i.    Importance of Unity in Christ, chs 1-4

                   ii.   Personal & Public Morality, chs 5-8

                   iii.  Influence & Christian Liberty, chs 9-10

                   iv.  Worship & Spiritual Gifts, chs 11-14

                   v.   The Resurrection, ch. 15

                   vi.  Concluding Matters, ch 16

 

      3.   Another outline of the book by Charles R. Erdman: 4

               a.    In the nine verses which open the first chapter of the epistle, Paul dwells on the relation of the believer to Christ; and it is this vital relation which gives unity to the epistle, the contents of which may be summarized: Union with Christ is:

                       i.      Dishonoured by factions, chs 1-4

                       ii.     Destroyed by impurity, chs 5-6

                       iii.    Hallowed and illustrated by marriage, ch 7

                       iv.    Profaned by fellowship with idolatry, chs 8-10

                       v.     Symbolized by the Lord’s Supper, ch 11

                       vi.    Disgraced by disorder, chs 12-14

                       vii.   Consummated at the resurrection, ch 15.

               b.    With chapter 16 being closing notes and messages.

 

      4.   About the city of Corinth

             a.   Fourth largest city in Roman Empire in the time of the New Testament

             b.   Centre of commerce being on the route from Italy to the middle east; situated on two long inlets, one opening on the Adriatic, the other the Aegean, Sea

             c.   Home of worship of Aphrodite (= Roman Venus), goddess of physical love and moral tone of the people was similarly greedy, lustful, and immoral

 

      5.   Quotations concerning the city of Corinth

             a.   Farrar: ‘... a city conspicuous for its depravity even amid the depraved cities of a dying heathenism ...

             b.   Gettys: ‘a seaman’s paradise, a drunkard’s haven, and a virtuous woman’s hell.

             c.   Barclay: ‘a by-word for evil and immoral living. The very word korinthiazesthai (to live like a Corinthian), has become part of the Greek language; and it meant to live with drunken and immoral debauchery …

 

B.   History of Church in Corinth & Approximate Dates

             Date            Reference           Events

      1.   50-52AD    Acts 18:1-17     Paul’s first visit to Corinth, founding the church and remaining there for 18 months. This took place during Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey, which is shown on the map following as

                                                           — > — — — — > — — — — — — > —

      2.   50AD                                Paul writes from Ephesus to Thessalonica

      3.   52AD          Acts 19:1          Apollos sent from Ephesus to Corinth

      4.   53AD          1 Cor 5:9          Paul writes to Corinth from Ephesus a letter, no longer in existence

      5.   54AD          1 Cor 1:11        Paul receives report about situation in Corinth from Chloe

      6.   55AD                                  Paul writes 1 Corinthians from Ephesus

C.   Corinth & Paul’s Missionary Journeys

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D.  Q&A: The class was asked to read through the book and answer the following questions.

      1.   After reading 1 Corinthians in one setting, what repeated words or phrases did you observe?

              a.    United &c, together &c, (one) another, other

              b.    Church, temple, body (i) of church (ii) physical

      2.   What do these words and phrases tell you about the message of the book?

              a.    Christianity involves the change from living for one’s own self alone to living in fellowship with other believers.

      3.   Did you see any pattern developing as the book unfolded? What pattern(s) did you see, if any?

              a.    Teaching of Christian truth followed by its application to specific cases.

      4.   List some of the reasons Paul insists that these brethren should not be divided (chapters 1-4).

              a.    To be noted in weeks to come

      5.   List some of the ways they have shown that they are divided (chapters 5-15).

              a.    To be noted in weeks to come

      6.   What cultural factors did the Corinthian Christians have to overcome in their own city?

              a.    The pagan exaltation of immorality

              b.    The world’s standards of success

      7.   What do you know about the ethnic makeup of the Corinthian church? How would that affect the church in various areas that are addressed in this book?

              a.    Initially they consisted of Jews converted to faith in Jesus as Messiah

              b.    Later Gentiles became the larger group, & unbelieving Jews antagonistic.

             c.   On this last item look at Luke 4:24-29, Acts 22:21-22

                   i.    What caused this response by the Jewish people?

                            (1)  Jealousy that the Gentiles should have direct access into the kingdom of God without first being proselytes.

                   ii.   What were they forgetting (see Genesis 12:2-3, 18:18, 22:18 &c)

                            (1)  The choice of Israel was, not for their own comfort alone, but that they be a blessing, a means of salvation to the whole world.

The Study of Chapter 1

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 – Paul Opens His Letter to the Corinthians

A.   1:1-9 – “The Letter Opens”; each class member was asked to create an outline for this passage, giving titles for each section and the key idea for each verse.

      1.   Verses 1-9, Titles: “Introduction”; “Blessing”; “Relationship to Jesus Christ”; “Greetings”

             a.   Verses 1-3, Titles: “The Writer & the Readers”; “Salutation”; “Paul’s Authority”; “Christ the Saviour of the Corinthians”1 ¶ Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

                   i.    v 1: Paul the Apostle 1 ¶ Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes 5 our brother,

                          (1)  How does Paul introduce himself and why?

                                (a)  the term “apostle” means “one sent from”; in some cases used of “missionaries” as of Barnabas (1 Cor 9:5-6), Silvanus & Timothy (1 Th. 1:1, 2:6); uniquely of James the Lord’s (half) brother (Gal 1:19); but especially as the office of those who saw & were commissioned by the risen Lord (1 Cor 15:7-8).

                                (b)  the term “will of God”: two words for will (i) logical, what God deems appropriate (ii) with emotion, what God desires; it is (ii) here indicating love & grace in the choice (cf Deut 7:7-8). Also, Paul’s choice as apostle was of God, not of man:

                                   (c)  both of these emphasise Paul’s authority in this letter.

                          (2)  Who is Sosthenes? See footnote: appears to have been a Jew from Corinth. Was he a co-author of the epistle? No; see verses 10-on where Paul uses the first person pronoun (cf., 2 Cor 10:1).

                          (3)  Why does Paul so frequently include names of his team members? Vs., disciples as Peter, etc.; perhaps to give weight to his letters.

                          (4)  How does this verse start to resolve the problem of divisions?

                                Consider the unity expressed between an apostle & a brother

                   ii.   v 2 To the Church at Corinth (Those Addressed; To Saints) 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth 6, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

                          (1)  What surprising things are written of the believers in Corinth?

                          That they are described as having been sanctified; are called ‘saints’

                          (2)  How can they be said in all truthfulness?

These words mean holy which means “set apart” or “dedicated”; this takes place at the time of salvation (but goes on throughout life)

                          (3)  What is said here that should counteract party spirit in Corinth?

                                   (a)  it is the church (called out ones) of God; not of some clique

                                   (b)  this church is just one part of the universal church of Christ

                                   (c)  the Corinthians share allegiance to one Lord along with Paul

                          (4)  The word “call” (or its relatives) is used three times in these two verses … what is its meaning in each context:

                                (a)  Paul, called … (v 1)? – = appointed, here as often, divinely

                                (b)  saints by calling (v 2)? – = receiving the Divine invitation

                                (c)  call upon ... (v 2)? – = pray & worship (also suggested: obey, recognize, serve, etc., the Lord Jesus Christ). We read the first part of comments by Alexander McLaren (to be found at the end of this section).

                   iii.  v 3 — salutation, greetings, good wishes, blessing & prayer for the church 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

                          (1)  What is the relationship between “grace” and “peace:? Grace is the unmerited favour shown by God in His provision of salvation and attendant blessings; Peace is a principal one of those blessings, a wholeness of man having beenrestored to relationship with God that was destroyed by sin, as well as peace with others & within. Both come from God through Jesus. See Romans 5:1.

                          (2)  What truths here should dispel disunity? Since grace & peace come from God to all Christians alike, possessing them is nothing for which we can be proud (our boast should be in Jesus Christ). What reason can there be for disunity, dividing into cliques and parties? NOTE: purity of doctrine, use of spiritual gifts, etc., are other subjects See Romans 14:3-4.

 

             b.   Verses 4-9 7, Titles: “Spiritual Gifts”; “(Thanksgiving for) God’s Work in the Corinthians”4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

                   i.    v 4 Thanking God; Grace; Constant Gratitude; Appreciating Salvation

4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,

                          (1)  What is the key word in this sentence (note: the verse goes to v 8)? Perhaps “grace”, but “thank” is the verb defining the entire sentene, which is a list of all the reasons for thanksgiving.

                          (2)  What is Paul’s reason for gratitude here? The evidence of God’s grace working in their lives.

                          (3)  What is the relationship that matters found in this verse? (1) God and You; it is He who transforms us; also, (2) Grace and giving, two sides of one coin, (3) God & Christ Jesus, inseparable, but distinct.

                   ii.   v 5 Their Spiritual Gifts; Enriched in Him; Gifts of Witness

5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,

                          (1)  What do you think was the specific form of grace here? Abilities and gifts which resulted from their being in Christ; ie., reborn by the Spirit

                          (2)  What examples of their riches are given? The speech gifts (probably prophecy & tongues); the knowlege gifts (prophecy & interpretation)

                          (3)  What warning may be taken from this? They did not need to be told that they had these gifts; but Paul’s emphasis is on (1) these are gifts given by God’s grace (2) they are dependent upon union with Christ

                   iii.  v 6 Clarity of the Message (Gospel, Good News); Power of God’s Working, Romans 1:16-17; Gospel’s Proof is in People

                           6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,

                          (1)  What is another term for “the testimony concerning Christ”? The Gospel, or, The Good News (of Salvation)

                          (2)  Who bore that testimony? 8 Moses & the other prophets; John the Baptist; Jesus Himself; the Disciples & Apostles; for them, Paul

                          (3)  By what means or evidences is the testimony confirmed? Their verbal acceptance of it; regenerate (born again) lives; repentance & change in lives of the Corinthians who had believed; spiritual gifts;

                   iv.  v 7 Keep you eyes on the Goal; “With Eternity’s Values in View”

7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

                          (1)  What sort of gifts (charisma) do you think are meant? See Romans 12: 6-8 (note also vv 9-10); 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (note also 13:1-2); and, Ephesians 4:7-11 (note also vv 12-16).

                          (2)  What is the meaning of “revelation” in this context? 9 “Revealing” or “disclosure”; AV has “coming” – ‘revelation’ is not the prophetic gift, but Christ’s return.

                   v.   v 8 Confirmed & Blameless

8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 10

                          (1)  What is the reason for gratitude in this verse? That they are being made firm, that is kept, until they shall reach a blameless state.

                          (2)  By whom is this work done in the Corinthians (and in us)? By the Lord Jesus Christ, the “who” referring back to Him in verse 7.

                          (3)  When will the work be shown complete? When Christ is revealed (at His return) so also will the perfection of His salvation be revealed.

                          (4)  Note the words that speak of inclusiveness in this sentence: always (v 4), everything (v 5), all (v 5), not lacking in any (v 7), to the end (v 8) – of what should these remind a person in being a Christian? The salvation found in Jesus Christ is complete in every detail, and for every believer: it covers the individual and the church, for ever.

                   vi.  v 9 God is Faithful

9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

                          (1)  How does God’s faithfulness apply in this section? The spiritual gifts to believers, repeatedly referenced in this passage, are from His hand.

                          (2)  How are they again reminded of the need for unity? “Fellowship” expresses a commonality of interest and purpose; this is an objective of God’s invitation to receive the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.

                          (3)  From this passage alone, how would you adjudge the spirituality of the Corinthians Christians? It sounds as though they were vitalic Christians, full of spiritual gifts, which were being actively used for God.

                          (4)  If this were specifically addressed to you, what thoughts would pass through your head?

                                   (a)  humbled

                                   (b)  in awe (that God is doing all this for me!)


CALLING ON THE NAME by Alexander MacLaren (ca 1910)

Section on 1 Corinthians 1:2 read in class.

      All that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.’—1 COR. i. 2. (AV)


Extract from Alexander MacLaren’s commentary on this verse.


There are some difficulties, with which I need not trouble you, about both the translation and the connection of these words. One thing is quite clear, that in them the Apostle associates the church at Corinth with the whole mass of Christian believers in the world. The question may arise whether he does so in the sense that he addresses his letter both to the church at Corinth and to the whole of the churches, and so makes it a catholic epistle. That is extremely unlikely, considering how all but entirely this letter is taken up with dealing with the especial conditions of the Corinthian church. Rather I should suppose that he is simply intending to remind ‘the Church of God at Corinth … sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,’ that they are in real, living union with the whole body of believers. Just as the water in a little land-locked bay, connected with the sea by some narrow strait like that at Corinth, is yet part of the whole ocean that rolls round the world, so that little community of Christians had its living bond of union with all the brethren in every place that called upon the name of Jesus Christ.


Whichever view on that detail of interpretation be taken, this phrase, as a designation of Christians, is worth considering. It is one of many expressions found in the New Testament as names for them, some of which have now dropped out of general use, while some are still retained. It is singular that the name of ‘Christian,’ which has all but superseded all others, was originally invented as a jeer by sarcastic wits at Antioch, and never appears in the New Testament, as a name by which believers called themselves. Important lessons are taught by these names, such as disciples, believers, brethren, saints, those of the way, and so on, each of which embodies some characteristic of a follower of Jesus. So this appellation in the text, ‘those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ may yield not unimportant lessons if it be carefully weighed, and to some of these I would ask your attention now.


I. First, it gives us a glimpse into the worship of the primitive Church.


To ‘call on the name of the Lord’ is an expression that comes straight out of the Old Testament. It means there distinctly adoration and invocation, and it means precisely these things when it is referred to Jesus Christ.


We find in the Acts of the Apostles that the very first sermon that was preached at Pentecost by Peter all turns upon this phrase. He quotes the Old Testament saying, ‘Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,’ and then goes on to prove that ‘the Lord,’ the ‘calling on whose Name’ is salvation, is Jesus Christ; and winds up with ‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.


Again we find that Ananias of Damascus, when Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him to go to Paul and lay his hands upon him, shrank from the perilous task because Paul had been sent to ‘bind them that call upon the name of the Lord,’ and to persecute them. We find the same phrase recurring in other connections, so that, on the whole, we may take the expression as a recognised designation of Christians.


This was their characteristic, that they prayed to Jesus Christ. The very first word, so far as we know, that Paul ever heard from a Christian was, ‘Lord Jesus! receive my spirit.’ He heard that cry of calm faith which, when he heard it, would sound to him as horrible blasphemy from Stephen’s dying lips. How little he dreamed that he himself was soon to cry to the same Jesus, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ and was in after-days to beseech Him thrice for deliverance, and to be answered by sufficient grace. How little he dreamed that, when his own martyrdom was near, he too would look to Jesus as Lord and righteous Judge, from whose hands all who loved His appearing should receive their crown! Nor only Paul directs desires and adoration to Jesus as Lord; the last words of Scripture are a cry to Him as Lord to come quickly, and an invocation of His ‘grace’ on all believing souls.


Prayer to Christ from the very beginning of the Christian Church was, then, the characteristic of believers, and He to whom they prayed, thus, from the beginning, was recognised by them as being a Divine Person, God manifest in the flesh.


The object of their worship, then, was known by the people among whom they lived. Singing hymns to Christus as a god is nearly all that the Roman proconsul in his well-known letter could find to tell his master of their worship. They were the worshippers – not merely the disciples – of one Christ. That was their peculiar distinction. Among the worshippers of the false gods they stood erect; before Him, and Him only, they bowed. In Corinth there was the polluted worship of Aphrodite and of Zeus. These men called not on the name of these lustful and stained deities, but on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And everybody knew whom they worshipped, and understood whose men they were. Is that true about us? Do we Christian men so habitually cultivate the remembrance of Jesus Christ, and are we so continually in the habit of invoking His aid, and of contemplating His blessed perfections and sufficiency, that every one who knew us would recognise us as meant by those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ?


If this be the proper designation of Christian people, alas! alas! for so many of the professing Christians of this day, whom neither bystanders nor themselves would think of as included in such a name!


Further, the connection here shows that the divine worship of Christ was universal among the churches. There was no ‘place’ where it was not practised, no community calling itself a church to whom He was not the Lord to be invoked and adored. This witness to the early and universal recognition in the Christian communities of the divinity of our Lord is borne by an undisputedly genuine epistle of Paul’s. It is one of the four which the most thorough-going destructive criticism accepts as genuine. It was written before the Gospels, and is a voice from the earlier period of Paul’s apostleship. Hence the importance of its attestation to this fact that all Christians everywhere, both Jewish, who had been trained in strict monotheism, and Gentile, who had burned incense at many a foul shrine, were perfectly joined together in this, that in all their need they called on the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and brought to Him, as divine, adoration not to be rendered to any creatures. From the day of Pentecost onwards, a Christian was not merely a disciple, a follower, or an admirer, but a worshipper of Christ, the Lord.


1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – Unity in Jesus Christ

B.   Outline of 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 plus key idea(s) the class found in each verse

      1.   Verses 10-17, Titles: “Unity in Christ through Focus on Christ”; “Sectarianism is Sin”; “Christ the Only Head of the Church”; “Factions are Phony”; “Down to the Nitty-Gritty”

             a.   Verses 10-13, Titles: “Unity in Christ”; “Disunity in Corinth”; “Christ is First”; “Christ is the Head”10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

                   i.    v 10 Unity; Be One; Be Agreed

                          (1)  What is the implication of exhorting “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”? – gives special authority to Paul’s words & shows seriousness of the subject.

                          (2)  What is the result when Christians don’t agree (“speak the same”)? – Rather than looking to Christ there is a distorted message both to those within the church and to observers outside the church.

                          (3)  Judgment” here is not as by a judge, but ??? – in the face of a situation or statement, having an opinion leading to a decision

                   ii.   v 11 Their Disunity; Their Dissension; Their Quarrels

                          (1)  Were Chloe’s household “tattle-tales” or what? – Paul relied on such people to watch of over churches; they were concerned and by quoting his source, Paul shows he has a solid basis for this own concern

                   iii.  v 12 Paul: “Who am I ?!?!”; Party Spirit; Church Politics

                          (1)  “I am of xxxx” is saying “I follow the leading / teaching of xxxx”; what does this imply concerning the various men named? – they focussed on different personalities rather than the unity of the message and perhaps upon supposed disagreements

                          (2)  What does Ephesians 4:4-7 say on this matter? – but, under the guidance of God, there can be no real discrepancy in the message

                   iv.  v 13 Critical Questions; Crucial Questions; Christ Alone; Christ is the Focus; Paul’s personal experience made him aware of the danger of pride

                          (1)  How do these questions help in getting the point across? – emphasis; taking their claims to next level / logical conclusion; show their effect; help them to come to answer themselves.

                          (2)  Can you think of key questions Christ asked His disciples? – “Who do men say that I am? ... do you say?”; “Where shall we by bread” (Jn 6:5); of others? “What would you have me do?” (Mt 20:32);”What do you think?” (Mt 21:28); “What think ye of Christ ...?” (Mt 22:42)

 

             b.   Verses 14-17, Titles: “Gospel Allows No Factions”; “Paul a Correcting Example”; “Focus on Christ – No Distinctions” 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 that no man should say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void.

                   i.    v 14 Paul’s baptising was limited; Paul baptised only a few; Emphasising unity in Christ

                          (1)  What is the occasion for this thankfulness (see also v 15)? – that on this account there were very few who could claim or take pride in having been baptised by Paul, so that the glory was to Jesus Christ.

                   ii.   v 15 Not in Paul’s, but Christ’s name; No claim to Paul

                   iii.  v 16 Numbers do not count; Baptism not uppermost in his memory; ... not a priority of His ministry; Paul can baptise but not main focus

                          (1)  How would you answer someone who says this verse shows Paul was not really inspired (when he says, “I do not know”)? – (1) Holy Spirit can allow writer “to speak by permission” an opinion based on situation (& sometimes not allowing); (2) He directs what to write and, what not; (3) He guards writer from factual error (Paul truly couldn’t remember)

                   iv.  v 17 Paul sent to preach cross of Christ; Centrality of cross / gospel; Paul’s Gift Preaching; Priority One Calling

                          (1)  What advantage do non-eloquent preachers have? – the results are the Lord Jesus’ as He works through man’s weakness & inability

                          (2)  How do these things “empty” the cross of Christ? – they ascribe the power of the gospel to man’s resources rather than Christ’s work

                          (3)  Note that this verse leads naturally into the next section.

 

1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 – Concerning Wisdom

C. 1:18–2:16, Titles: “Concerning Wisdom”; “On the Matter of Wisdom”

      1.   1:18-25, Titles: “God’s Foolishness / Wisdom and ours”; “The Wisdom of the Cross is Only Perceived by Believers”18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, 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 the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the 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.

             a.   v 18     Power of the cross. God’s wisdom a mystery to man. Preaching the cross responses: “It’s foolish”, “It’s God’s power”. The cross changed from foolishness to God’s power when we believe.

                   i.    Define or illustrate “the word (preaching) of the cross”. – The means to salvation; The gospel; Christ died for our sins and salvation (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-4).

                   ii.   In what ways does Romans 1:16-17 throw light onto this verse?

                            (1)  The “word of the cross” and the “gospel” mean the same, bringing the saving power of God

                            (2)  “not ashamed” is a stronger & indirect way of saying “I boast”

                            (3)  this gospel contrasts with social gospel & gospel of works

             b.   v 19     Man’s wisdom nothing compared to God’s wisdom (with v 20). Man’s cleverness futile. Man’s insight foolishness. Destroying wisdom of the wise. Nothing to understanding of the prudent. Answer of OT quotation.

                   i.    What is the effect of the preaching of the cross on some (Isaiah 6:9-10)?

                            (1)  they become spiritually dull, blind, and deaf

                            (2)  the more they hear, the more gospel-hardened they become

                   ii.   Why (2 Corinthians 4:4)?

                            (1)  it is God’s gospel (good news) that does this

                            (2)  it is the devil’s work that makes it have this result

             c.   v 20     God’s actions set aside human wisdom. Folly of man’s godless search for wisdom. No God, no wisdom.

             d.   v 21     God has accomplished what man’s wisdom cannot. God’s foolish gospel better than man’s wisdom. God saves through the foolishness of preaching. Note: Gk. for foolish = moros; foolishness = moria; relate to OT fool, foolish? – OT word: a rebellious spiritual attitude (example: Psalm 14:1). Word here (“moron”) a low intellectual ability: The educated Greeks saw the gospel as suited to the simple-minded. But the gospel is simple enough for a child, yet too profound to comprehend.

             e.   v 22     Jews want signs; Gentiles want wisdom. False goals: signs, wisdom. Jews need a sign, Greeks (Gentiles) want wisdom

             f.    v 23      Cross a stumbling-block to Jews, foolishness to Gentiles. World’s response to Christ’s crucifixion. Preaching Christ crucified: stumbling-block to Jews, foolishness to Greeks (Gentiles). The gospel, lunacy to natural man. Note: Gk. for stumbling-block is skandolos. What was death by hanging to the Jews? – it was considered such a curse that the (physical) land was not allowed to be polluted by leaving one hanged overnight.

             g.   v 24     To all believers, Christ is power and wisdom. Wisdom & power to the called.

             h.   v 25     Man at his wisest and strongest is insignificant compared to God. God’s excellence. Weakness / foolishness of God, stronger than wiser than man. Natural man cannot perceive God’s wisdom. What error does this section correct?

                     i.     God’s plan of salvation cannot be evaluated correctly by man’s criteria – the cross (& resurrection) foolishness to Gentiles (Acts 17:32), unbelievable stumbling-block to the Jews that Messiah should be cursed by hanging

                     ii.    God teaches in various ways: Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter), Christ’s words (as relayed orally or in early gospel); it is not up to our judgement as to which one we should pay attention; nor to select which parts of Bible to believe.

 

      2.   1:26-31, Titles: “To the Praise of God”; “God in All His Fullness”; “God Always with Us”26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, 29 that no man should boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.

             a.   v 26     Only a few believers considered wise, strong or noble by man. “Saved by the letter ‘m’!” (Lady Huntingdon). God is still calling us, others, regardless of being wise, mighty, noble. How was this especially evident in the Lord’s ministry?

                     i.     He was followed by many poor, people on the “fringes” of Jewish society;

                     ii.    His disciples were mainly of the “lower classes”

                     iii.   Not many rich nor of the religious rulers (Pharisees, Sadducees, priest, Levites, scribes, lawyers) – exceptions Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea

             b.   v 27     God uses the foolish and weak in man’s sight. God uses the simple and weak. God’s ways are the opposite of man’s ways. Give specific examples of this in the OT; ... in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ; ...in your experience.

                     i.     David & Goliath; children of Israel (see Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

                     ii.    Jesus humbled Himself; chose humble disciples; set children as examples; using the boy with 5 loaves & 2 fish; one death sufficient for all mankind

                     iii.   God chose to save me!

             c.   v 28     Believers have nothing to boast of (with v. 29). God can use what man considers useless.

                   i.    God chose the non-born & those considered nothing, the non-being to make of no effect the being. How does this turn the world upside-down (Acts 17:6)?

                            (1)  because it entirely reverses the world’s values

                            (2)  shows non-importance of things man considers important

             d.   v 29     Hence, boasting is out.

                   i.    What quality of God has brought this result?

                            (1)  His Mercy

                            (2)  the Humility shown by God the Son (Philippians 2:5-11)

                            (3)  His Grace … unmerited favour shown to mankind G.R.A.C.E.

             e.   v 30     Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification & redemption supplied by God. Christ is wisdom, plus.

                   i.    What then is the true relationship between wisdom & salvation?

                            (1)  It is God’s wisdom that planned salvation

                            (2)  that wisdom is embodied in Jesus Christ, His Person & His Work

                   ii.   Salvation is expressed by three different words; what aspect does each contribute to our understanding of the whole?

                            (1)  righteousness: right relationship with God; being justified by faith, not of works; Christ made our righteousness (2 Cor 5:21); justice

                            (2)  sanctification: set apart to God; being made holy

                            (3)  redemption: freed from slavery to sin; penalty of guilt paid

             f.    v 31     Our boasting is only in God. The real basis for boasting.

                   i.    What is it ‘to boast in the Lord’ (see Jeremiahs 9:23-24, Psalm 33:5)?

                            (1)  know God: a personal relationship (not simply facts about God)

                            (2)  understand (not comprehend) God: recognition & appreciation of His nature: His: mercy/lovingkindness, justice/judgment, righteousness

Footnotes