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1 Corinthians chapter 1

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17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

What does 1 Corinthians chapter 1 mean?

Paul is writing from Ephesus to the church in Corinth, a place he knows well. He spent over a year and half there, leading people to Christ and helping to establish the church. He is writing to them now to correct some wrong attitudes and behaviors among them that he has heard about, in addition to answering some questions he has received from them.

Before addressing his first area of concern for them, Paul begins his letter by thanking God for all He has done for the Christians in Corinth. Paul makes it clear he is convinced the faith of the Corinthians is genuine. It was confirmed by the gifts they have received from God, which include gifts of speech and knowledge. Whatever problems they have, it is not because God has not given them all they need. Paul assures them that because they are in Christ, they will stand blameless before God on the day of the Lord and Christ will sustain them until that day. They have been sanctified and their faithful God has called them into the fellowship of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:1–9).

Next Paul begins to address one of many concerns he has about the Corinthians. He has received a report from someone who knows them, indicating they are divided into factions based on what well-known teacher they are loyal to. Some say they follow Paul, while others say they follow a teacher called Apollos or the apostle Peter. Others even say that they follow Christ, as if it were a separate category altogether. Paul urges them be unified instead of divided, to find a way to agree with each other and stop defining their faith by the teacher they prefer, including him. Christ is not divided. They were not baptized in Paul's name. He did baptize some of them, but they were baptized in the name of Jesus. All their focus should be on Christ, not one human leader or another (1 Corinthians 1:10–17).

Paul transitions by declaring that Christ did not send him to preach the gospel with eloquent and wise-sounding words. To try to persuade people to believe in Christ in that way would risk emptying the cross of Christ of its power. The cross doesn't need clever packaging. It must be understood and believed for what it is. In fact, Paul shows that many people have rejected faith in Christ because of the cross. The idea of a crucified Messiah or deity is foolishness to those who are dying in their sin. For those who believe and are being saved, though, the cross is rightly understood to be the very power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18–21).

For the Jewish people, the teaching that the long-awaited Messiah had come only to be killed as a common criminal on a Roman cross was highly offensive. They looked for miraculous signs, for the Messiah to lead Israel into a glorious new age of freedom and dominance. For the Greeks who valued above all the pursuit of wisdom by human reason and logic, the cross was also foolish. What kind of a god would serve sinful humans by sacrificing His own Son to pay for their sin? Such a god would be weak and certainly not the one, true God above all other gods (1 Corinthians 1:22–25).

Paul shows that God was pleased to save those who believed the "weak and foolish" gospel of Christ crucified. In fact, God intentionally chose those who were weak and foolish in the world's eyes to believe the "weak and foolish" gospel of Jesus. In this way, God will shame the supposed wisdom and strength of all those high-status people who have rejected faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:26–31).
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