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1 Corinthians 1:28

ESV God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
NIV God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,
NASB and the insignificant things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
CSB God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world —what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something,
NLT God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
KJV And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are:
NKJV and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,

What does 1 Corinthians 1:28 mean?

Paul continues his thought from the previous verse. He has written that God chooses those who will believe in the seemingly foolish message of Christ crucified. God mostly does not choose those of great status in human terms. He does not tend to choose respected academics, people of great wealth, or those born into rank and privilege. Those people have rejected the idea of Christ crucified as weak and foolish. Despite evidence and reason, they are too arrogant to trust in God (Romans 1:18–23; James 2:19).

Instead God shames their unbelief by choosing people the world sees as weak and foolish. Now he adds that God chooses for belief those who are low and despised in the world. He turns what the world sees as "something" into "nothing." And, in another sense, God brings meaning and value to those the world ignores; God chooses the "nothings."

To call people "nothings" may sound harsh and exaggerated to modern and western ears. Most of us cannot imagine the daily lives of those in a strict caste system. We cannot fathom life without any social position due to being in the slave class, or servant class, or birth into a low-reputation family, or with the "wrong" ethnic origin. Or maybe we know it better than we realize. In such cultures, human life without the protection of social and political standing was considered worthless, and certainly expendable.

That's who God chooses, Paul writes. He calls the "nothings" to faith in Christ looking forward to the day when all the "somethings" who rejected faith in Christ as foolish and weak will become the true nothings, in a sense, as they stand before Him.
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