Introduction: First Corinthians reveals the problems, pressures, and struggles of a church called out of a pagan society. In addition to discipline, Paul shares words of counsel in answers to questions raised by Corinthians believers.
Corinth was a key city in ancient Greece until it was destroyed by the Romans in 146 B.C. Julius Caesar rebuilt it as a Roman colony in 46 B.C. The official language was Latin, but the common language remained Greek.
The city was filled with shrines and temples, but the most prominent was the Temple of Aphrodite on top of a 1,8000-foot promontory called Acrocorinthus.
While there, Paul lived and made tents with Aquila and Priscilla. Silas and Timothy joined him there. Paul taught the Word of God in Corinth for eighteen months, in A.D. 51 and 52. After Paul’s departure, Apollo came from Ephesus to minister in the Corinthian church.
Verse 1 – Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
Paul wrote this letter while he was visiting Ephesus. Corinth and Ephesus faced each other across the Aegean Sea. Paul knew the Corinthian church well because he had spent some time there during his second missionary journey. While in Ephesus, he had heard about problems in the church. (Sosthenes was the chief ruler of the synagogue at Corinth. He had been beaten when he converted and was now with Paul in Ephesus.)
Verse 2 – To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
Verse 3 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Verse 4 – I thank my God always concerning you for grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus,
Verse 5 – that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge,
Verse 6 – even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,
Verse 7 – so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Verse 8 – who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When getting ready to correct, it’s best to start with what God has already confirmed in them.
Verse 9 – God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Report of Divisions
Verse 10 – Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Paul was talking about them all being in agreement to the same doctrine. There are fundamental and foundational doctrines of Christianity that have to follow Scriptural guidelines. When people start injecting their own opinions, there will be division.
Verse 11 – For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.
verse 12 – Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”
Keep in mind, the New Testament had not been written. The people were dividing themselves by saying, “I follow Paul’s teaching; I follow Apollos’ teaching; I follow Cephas’ (Peter’s) teaching,” and in turn were dividing Christ.
Verse 13 – Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized int he name of Paul?
Verse 14 – I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
Verse 15 – lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.
Verse 16 – Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
Verse 17 – For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Paul was not saying that baptism wasn’t important, he simply meant, don’t go about bragging about whom you sit under to learn or whom baptized you, as if one was more superior than the other.
People might do the same today, “I’m personal friends with the pastor and we eat together all the time.” Big whup! Do people honestly think that being close to a pastor or friends with those on the praise team, wins them favor with God or others?
The Gospel Is Not Earthly Wisdom
Verse 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.
Verse 19 – For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
The human race is divided into two categories, the saved and the lost, those who are perishing and those saved. You cannot understand the Bible except by the Spirit of God. You cannot be saved but by the Holy Sprint’s drawing. Our wisdom is and will never be any match for God’s. Even our reasoning is no comparison. Without Christ we perish!
Verse 20 – Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Verse 21 – For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
The unbelieving world takes the message of the cross as foolishness, but God determined to save people on the bases of their trust in the foolish message preached – Christ crucified.
Verse 22 – For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;
Verse 23 – but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
Verse 24 – but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
The message, “Christ Crucified,” to the Jews was a stumbling block because Jesus didn’t meet their expectations of a Messiah. To the Greeks or Gentiles mind-set, which held no messianic expectations, but only general conceptions of what deity should be like, the message of “Christ Crucified” was foolishness. But to those that are “called,” Chris is God’s power and God’s wisdom to save them from His judgment.
Verse 25 – Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Verse 26 – For you see your calling brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
Verse 27 – But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
Verse 28 – 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,
Intelligence and wealth, poison, and prestige, are not what causes God’s Spirit to call. However, once a person is saved their knowledge and wisdom, revelation and discernment will grow. This all looks as foolishness to the unbeliever. God makes a person qualified “after they are saved.”
Verse 29 – that no flesh should glory in His presence.
Verse 30 – But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption –
Verse 31 – that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
Salvation is totally through faith in Jesus Christ. We didn’t do anything to earn or deserve it, so then we can only boast in what Christ has done.