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1 Corinthians 1:26

ESV For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
NIV Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
NASB For consider your calling, brothers and sisters, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
CSB Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth.
NLT Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
KJV For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

What does 1 Corinthians 1:26 mean?

Paul has described why so many intelligent, well-educated, and thoughtful people reject the gospel message. Many bright and rational persons recoil at the suggestion that the Son of God was crucified on a Roman cross to pay the price for human sin. From their perspective, such a god would be foolish and weak. Anyone who believes this, by extension of their thinking, must also be foolish and weak.

Paul now asks the Corinthian Christians to think about everyone in their congregation. He wants them to evaluate those God called to believe in Jesus on a human scale. How do they stack up? His answer is not flattering to them. Few of them were wise by human standards. In other words, they didn't have may PhDs or academics or skilled speakers who could debate with eloquence.

In addition, few of the believers in Corinth had much power, in human terms. They did not command armies or run large corporations. They did not possess extraordinary wealth so that they could control the actions of many other people in service to themselves.

Finally, not many of the Corinthian believers were born into nobility. In the highly segregated social system of Paul's day, being born into the right family brought with it incredible privilege and status that was difficult to lose and impossible to earn. Those people didn't tend to come to Christ and join the Corinthian church.

Paul describes those who are in Christ in Corinth, and in most places, in the following verses. His emphasis here is not to denounce learning, since the Bible is full of exhortations towards wisdom and reason (Acts 17:11; 1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 2:8). Rather, he is pointing out the enormous gap between merely understanding the gospel and accepting it (James 2:19).
What is the Gospel?
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