Friday, 20 May 2011

1 Corinthians 1-Paul's letter to his spiritual children

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Church Divided Over Leaders

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, 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;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher 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 know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 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. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”


John Wesley said...

1. Paul, called to be an apostle - There is great propriety in every clause of the salutation, particularly in this, as there were some in the church of Corinth who called the authority of his mission in question. Through the will of God - Called "the commandment of God," 1 Tim. i, 1 This was to the churches the ground of his authority; to Paul himself, of an humble and ready mind. By the mention of God, the authority of man is excluded, Gal. i, 1; by the mention of the will of God, the merit of Paul, chap. xv, 8, &c. And Sosthenes - A Corinthian, St. Paul's companion in travel. It was both humility and prudence in the apostle, thus to join his name with his own, in an epistle wherein he was to reprove so many irregularities. Sosthenes the brother - Probably this word is emphatical; as if he had said, Who, from a Jewish opposer of the gospel, became a faithful brother.

2. To the church of God which is in Corinth - St. Paul, writing in a familiar manner to the Corinthians, as also to the Thessalonians and Galatians, uses this plain appellation. To the other churches he uses a more solemn address. Sanctified through Jesus Christ - And so undoubtedly they were in general, notwithstanding some exceptions. Called - Of Jesus Christ, Rom. i, 6 And - As the fruit of that calling made holy. With all that in every place - Nothing could better suit that catholic love which St. Paul labours to promote in this epistle, than such a declaration of his good wishes for every true Christian upon earth. Call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - This plainly implies that all Christians pray to Christ, as well as to the Father through him.

4. Always - Whenever I mention you to God in prayer.

5. In all utterance and knowledge - Of divine things. These gifts the Corinthians particularly admired. Therefore this congratulation naturally tended to soften their spirits, and I make way for the reproofs which follow.

6. The testimony of Christ - The gospel. Was confirmed among you - By these gifts attending it. They knew they had received these by the hand of Paul: and this consideration was highly proper, to revive in them their former reverence and affection for their spiritual father.

7. Waiting - With earnest desire. For the glorious Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ - A sure mark of a true or false Christian, to long for, or dread, this Revelation.

8. Who will also - if you faithfully apply to him. Confirm you to the end. In the day of Christ - Now it is our day, wherein we are to work out our salvation; then it will be eminently the day of Christ, and of his glory in the saints.

9. God is faithful - To all his promises; and therefore "to him that hath shall be given." By whom ye are called - A pledge of his willingness to save you unto the uttermost.

10. Now I exhort you - Ye have faith and hope; secure love also. By the endearing name of our Lord Jesus Christ - lnfinitely preferable to all the human names in which ye glory. That ye all speak the same thing - They now spoke different things, ver. 12 And that there be no schisms among you - No alienation of affection from each other. Is this word ever taken in any other sense in scripture? But that ye be joined in the same mind - Affections, desires. And judgment - Touching all the grand truths of the gospel.

John Wesley 2 said...

11. It hath been declared to me by them of the family of Chloe - Whom some suppose to have been the wife of Stephanas, and the mother of Fortunatus and Achaicus. By these three the Corinthians had sent their letter to St. Paul, chap. xvi, 17. That there are contentions - A word equivalent with schisms in the preceding verse.

12. Now this I say - That is, what I mean is this: there are various parties among you, who set themselves, one against an other, in behalf of the several teachers they admire. And I of Christ - They spoke well, if they had not on this pretense despised their teachers, chap. iv, 8 Perhaps they valued themselves on having heard Christ preach in his own person.

13. Is Christ divided - Are not all the members still under one head? Was not he alone crucified for you all; and were ye not all baptized in his name? The glory of Christ then is not to be divided between him and his servants; neither is the unity of the body to be torn asunder, seeing Christ is one still.

14. I thank God - (A pious phrase for the common one, "I rejoice,") that, in the course of his providence, I baptized none of you, but Crispus, once the ruler of the synagogue, and Caius.

15. Lest any should say that I had baptized in my own name - In order to attach them to myself.

16. I know not - That is, it does not at present occur to my memory, that I baptized any other.

17. For God did not send me to baptize - That was not my chief errand: those of inferior rank and abilities could do it: though all the apostles were sent to baptize also, Matt. xxviii, 19 But to preach the gospel - So the apostle slides into his general proposition: but not with wisdom of speech - With the artificial ornaments of discourse, invented by human wisdom. Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect - The whole effect of St. Paul's preaching was owing to the power of God accompanying the plain declaration of that great truth, "Christ bore our sins upon the cross." But this effect might have been imputed to another cause, had he come with that wisdom of speech which they admired.

18. To them that perish - By obstinately rejecting the only name whereby they can be saved. But to us who are saved - Now saved from our sins, and in the way to everlasting salvation, it is the great instrument of the power of God.

19. For it is written - And the words are remarkably applicable to this great event. Isaiah xxix, 14

20. Where is the wise? &c. - The deliverance of Judea from Sennacherib is what Isaiah refers to in these words; in a bold and beautiful allusion to which, the apostle in the clause that follows triumphs over all the opposition of human wisdom to the victorious gospel of Christ. What could the wise men of the gentiles do against this? or the Jewish scribes? or the disputers of this world? - Those among both, who, proud of their acuteness, were fond of controversy, and thought they could confute all opponents. Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world - That is, shown it to be very foolishness. Isaiah xxxiii, 18

John Wesley 3 said...

21. For since in the wisdom of God - According to his wise disposals, leaving them to make the trial. The world - Whether Jewish or gentile, by all its boasted wisdom knew not God - Though the whole creation declared its Creator, and though he declared himself by all the prophets; it pleased God, by a way which those who perish count mere foolishness, to save them that believe.

22. For whereas the Jews demand of the apostles, as they did of their Lord, more signs still, after all they have seen already; and the Greeks, or gentiles, seek wisdom - The depths of philosophy, and the charms of eloquence.

23. We go on to preach, in a plain and historical, not rhetorical or philosophical, manner, Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumblingblock - Just opposite to the "signs" they demand. And to the Greeks foolishness - A silly tale, just opposite to the wisdom they seek.

24. But to them that are called - And obey the heavenly calling. Christ - With his cross, his death, his life, his kingdom. And they experience, first, that he is the power, then, that he is the wisdom, of God.

25. Because the foolishness of God - The gospel scheme, which the world judge to be mere foolishness, is wiser than the wisdom of men; and, weak as they account it, stronger than all the strength of men.

26. Behold your calling - What manner of men they are whom God calls. That not many wise men after the flesh - In the account of the world. Not many mighty - Men of power and authority.

28. Things that are not - The Jews frequently called the gentiles, "Them that are not," 2 Esdras vi. 56, 57. In so supreme contempt did they hold them. The things that are - In high esteem.

29. That no flesh - A fit appellation. Flesh is fair, but withering as grass. May glory before God - In God we ought to glory.

30. Of him - Out of his free grace and mercy. Are ye Engrafted into Christ Jesus, who is made unto us that believe wisdom, who were before utterly foolish and ignorant. Righteousness - The sole ground of our justification, who were before under the wrath and curse of God. Sanctification - A principle of universal holiness, whereas before we were altogether dead in sin. And redemption - That is, complete deliverance from all evil, and eternal bliss both of soul and body.

31. Let him glory in the Lord - Not in himself, not in the flesh, not in the world. Jer. ix, 23, 24

chrysostom said...

1 Corinthians 1:4-5
I thank my God always concerning you, for the Grace of God which was given you in Jesus Christ; that in every thing you were enriched in him.

1. That which he exhorts others to do, saying, ‘Philippians 4:6 Let your requests with thanksgiving be made known unto God,’ the same also he used to do himself: teaching us to begin always from these words, and before all things to give thanks unto God. For nothing is so acceptable to God as that men should be thankful, both for themselves and for others: wherefore also he prefaces almost every Epistle with this. But the occasion for his doing so is even more urgent here than in the other Epistles. For he that gives thanks, does so, both as being well off, and as in acknowledgment of a favor: now a favor is not a debt nor a requital nor a payment: which indeed every where is important to be said, but much more in the case of the Corinthians who were gaping after the dividers of the Church.

2. ‘Unto my God.’ Out of great affection he seizes on that which is common, and makes it his own; as the prophets also from time to time use to say, Psalm 43:4; 62:1 ‘O God, my God;’ and by way of encouragement he incites them to use the same language also themselves. For such expressions belong to one who is retiring from all secular things, and moving towards Him whom he calls on with so much earnestness: since he alone can truly say this, who from things of this life is ever mounting upwards unto God, and always preferring Him to all, and giving thanks continually, not [only] for the grace already given, but whatever blessing has been since at any time bestowed, for this also he offers unto Him the same praise. Wherefore he says not merely, ‘I give thanks,’ but ‘at all times, concerning you;’ instructing them to be thankful both always, and to no one else save God only.

3. ‘For the grace of God.’ Do you see how from every quarter he draws topics for correcting them? For where ‘grace’ is, ‘works’ are not; where ‘works,’ it is no more ‘grace.’ If therefore it be ‘grace,’ why are you high-minded? Whence is it that you are puffed up?

‘Which is given you.’ And by whom was it given? By me, or by another Apostle? Not at all, but ‘by Jesus Christ.’ For the expression, ‘In Jesus Christ,’ signifies this. Observe how in various places he uses the word ἐν, ‘in,’ instead of δἰ οὗ, ‘through means of whom;’ therefore its sense is no less.
‘That in every thing you were enriched.’ Again, by whom? By Him, is the reply. And not merely ‘you were enriched,’ but ‘in every thing.’ Since then it is first of all, ‘riches’ then, ‘riches of God,’ next, ‘in every thing,’ and lastly, ‘through the Only-Begotten,’ reflect on the ineffable treasure!

chrysostom said...

1 Corinthians 1:9
8. ‘God is faithful, by whom you were called unto the fellowship of His Son.’ Wonderful! How great a thing says he here! How vast in the magnitude of the gift which he declares! Into the fellowship of the Only-Begotten have you been called, and do you addict yourselves unto men? What can be worse than this wretchedness? And how have you been called? By the Father. For since ‘through Him,’ and ‘in Him,’ were phrases which he was constantly employing in regard of the Son, lest men might suppose that he so mentions Him as being less, he ascribes the same to the Father. For not by this one and that one, says he, but ‘by the Father’ have you been called; by Him also have you been ‘enriched.’ Again, ‘you have been called;’ ye did not yourselves approach. But what means, ‘into the fellowship of His Son?’ Hear him declaring this very thing more clearly elsewhere. 2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him. Then, because it was a great thing which He had said, he adds an argument fraught with unanswerable conviction; for, says he, ‘God is faithful,’ i.e. ‘true.’ Now if ‘true,’ what things He has promised He will also perform. And He has promised that He will make us partakers of His only-begotten Son; for to this end also did He call us. For Romans 11:29 ‘His gifts, and the calling of God,’ are without repentance.

These things, by a kind of divine art he inserts thus early, lest after the vehemence of the reproofs they might fall into despair. For assuredly God's part will ensue, if we be not quite impatient of His rein. (ἀφηνιάσωμεν) As the Jews, being called, would not receive the blessings; but this was no longer of Him that called, but of their lack of sense. For He indeed was willing to give, but they, by refusing to receive, cast themselves away. For, had He called to a painful and toilsome undertaking, not even in that case were they pardonable in making excuse; however, they would have been able to say that so it was: but if the call be unto cleansing, Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:4-7 and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, and grace, and a free gift, and the good things in store, which eye has not seen, nor ear heard; and it be God that calls, and calls by Himself; what pardon can they deserve, who come not running to Him? Let no one therefore accuse God; for unbelief comes not of Him that calls, but of those who start away (ἀποπηδῶντας) from Him.

9. But some man will say, ‘He ought to bring men in, even against their will.’ Away with this. He does not use violence, nor compel; for who that bids to honors, and crowns, and banquets, and festivals, drags people, unwilling and bound? No one. For this is the part of one inflicting an insult. Unto hell He sends men against their will, but unto the kingdom He calls willing minds. To the fire He brings men bound and bewailing themselves: to the endless state of blessings not so. Else it is a reproach to the very blessings themselves, if their nature be not such as that men should run to them of their own accord and with many thanks.

‘Whence it is then,’ say you, ‘that all men do not choose them?’ From their own infirmity. ‘And wherefore does He not cut off their infirmity?’ And how tell me— in what way— ought He to cut it off? Hath He not made a world that teaches His loving-kindness and His power? For Psalm 19:1 ‘the heavens,’ says one, ‘declare the glory of God.’ Hath He not also sent prophets? Hath He not both called and honored us? Hath He not done wonders? Hath He not given a law both written and natural? Hath He not sent His Son? Hath he not commissioned Apostles? Hath He not wrought sins? Hath He not threatened hell? Hath He not promised the kingdom? Does He not every day make His sun to rise? Are not the things which He has enjoined so simple and easy, that many transcend His commandments in the greatness of their self-denial? ‘What was there to do unto the vineyard and I have not done it?’ Isaiah 5:4

chrysostom said...

10. ‘And why,’ say you, ‘did He not make knowledge and virtue natural to us?’ Who speaks thus? The Greek or the Christian? Both of them, indeed, but not about the same things: for the one raises his objection with a view to knowledge, the other with a view to conduct. First, then, we will reply to him who is on our side; for I do not so much regard those without, as our own members.

What then says the Christian? ‘It were meet to have implanted in us the knowledge itself of virtue.’ He has implanted it; for if he had not done so, whence should we have known what things are to be done, what left undone? Whence are the laws and the tribunals? But ‘God should have imparted not [merely] knowledge, but also the very doing of it [virtue].’ For what then would you have to be rewarded, if the whole were of God? For tell me, does God punish in the same manner you and the Greek upon committing sin ? Surely not. For up to a certain point you have confidence, viz. that which arises from the true knowledge. What then, if any one should now say that on the score of knowledge thou and the Greek will be accounted of like desert? Would it not disgust you? I think so, indeed. For you would say that the Greek, having of his own wherewith to attain knowledge, was not willing. If then the latter also should say that God ought to have implanted knowledge in us naturally, will you not laugh him to scorn, and say to him, ‘But why did you not seek for it? Why were you not in earnest even as I?’ And you will stand firm with much confidence, and say that it was extreme folly to blame God for not implanting knowledge by nature. And this you will say, because you have obtained what appertains to knowledge. So also had you performed what appertains to practice, you would not have raised these questions: but you are tired of virtuous practice, therefore you shelter yourself with these inconsiderate words. But how could it be at all right to cause that by necessity one should become good? Then shall we next have the brute beasts contending with us about virtue, seeing that some of them are more temperate than ourselves.

But you say, ‘I had rather have been good by necessity, and so forfeited all rewards, than evil by deliberate choice, to be punished and suffer vengeance.’ But it is impossible that one should ever be good by necessity. If therefore you know not what ought to be done, show it, and then we will tell you what is right to say. But if you know that uncleanness is wicked, wherefore do you not fly from the evil thing?

chrysostom said...

11. Since then both from our conduct towards one another, and from others' conduct to us when judged, and from the things about which we have written laws, and from the things wherein we condemn ourselves, though there be no one to accuse us; and from the instances of our becoming worse through indolence, and better through fear; and from the cases wherein we see others doing well and arriving at the height of self-command, (φιλοσοφίας) it is quite clear that we also have it in our power to do well: why do we, the most part, deceive ourselves in vain with heartless pretexts and excuses, bringing not only no pardon, but even punishment intolerable? When we ought to keep before our eyes that fearful day, and to give heed to virtue; and after a little labor, obtain the incorruptible crowns? For these words will be no defence to us; rather our fellow-servants, and those who have practised the contrary virtues, will condemn all who continue in sin: the cruel man will be condemned by the merciful; the evil, by the good; the fierce, by the gentle; the grudging, by the courteous; the vain-glorious, by the self-denying; the indolent, by the serious; the intemperate, by the sober-minded. Thus will God pass judgment upon us, and will set in their place both companies; on one bestowing praise, on the other punishment. But God forbid that any of those present should be among the punished and dishonored, but rather among those who are crowned and the winners of the kingdom. Which may God grant us all to obtain through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; with Whom unto the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, honor, now and ever, and unto everlasting ages. Amen.

calvin said...

'called to be saints' -- I understand to mean: As ye have been called unto holiness. It may, however, be taken in two senses. Either we may understand Paul to say, that the ground of sanctification is the call of God, inasmuch as God has chosen them; meaning, that this depends on his grace, not on the excellence of men; or we may understand him to mean, that, it accords with our profession that we be holy, this being the design of the doctrine of the gospel. The former interpretation appears to suit better with the context, but it is of no great consequence in which way you understand it, as there is an entire agreement between the two following positions -- that our holiness flows from the fountain of divine election, and that it, is the end of our calling.

We must, therefore, carefully maintain, that it is not through our own efforts that we are holy, but by the call of God, because He alone sanctifies those who were by nature unclean. And certainly it appears to me probable, that, when Paul has pointed out as it were with his finger the fountain of holiness thrown wide open, he mounts up a step higher, to the good pleasure of God, in which also Christ's mission to us originated. As, however, we are called by the gospel to harmlessness of life (Philippians 2:15,) it is necessary that this be accomplished in us in reality, in order that our calling may be effectual. It will, however, be objected, that, there were not many such among the Corinthians. I answer, that the weak are not excluded from this number; for here God only begins his work in us, and by little and little carries it forward gradually and by successive steps. I answer farther, that Paul designedly looks rather to the grace of God in them than to their own defects, that he may put them to shame for their negligence, if they do not act a suitable part.