1 Corinthians 1:1-31
Welcome. What you are about to read is a study of the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. As I study I go chapter by chapter and verse by verse. I use The Companions Bible (KJV). You’ll also notice that I take many words back to the original Greek or Hebrew text. I do this using The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. The purpose of that exercise is to ensure I’m getting the most accurate translation of His Word to us. If you’ve never studied this way you’ll likely be very surprised by how easily God’s message is twisted through poor translating.
If you study with me (or anyone) please consult your Bible throughout. It’s His Word we should study. God is infallible but I am not.
I hope you’ll pull out your Bible and join me in a verse by verse study.
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
You’ll notice in the first ten verses Paul references Jesus Christ by name 10 times. He is making it abundantly clear whose teachings these are, not Paul’s but our Lord Jesus Christ’s.
He mentions he is called to be an apostle of Jesus. He was. This is a man who was working against the church (slaughtering Christians) when he was struck down on the road to Damascus. In Acts 9 Jesus tells him that he (Paul) is a chosen vessel to bear His name before the Gentiles (nations). Peter also credentials Paul in 2 Peter 3:15-16. So, yes, Paul was most definitely called to be an apostle through the will of God.
Paul is writing to the Christians in Corinth (located in Greece).
4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5 That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
All knowledge comes from God. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fear (reverence or love) of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
This can sound a bit confusing if you’re not looking at the original Greek from the manuscripts. The Companion Bible and The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible can help with this. ‘So that ye come behind in no gift’ means ‘so that you are not lacking in any gift’. ‘Waiting’ is better translated to ‘eagerly expecting’. Now you can see that we’re being told that the testimony of Christ is confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift and eagerly expecting the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God provides what we need to do His work. He will give us the required gifts. And if we know and love the Lord then absolutely we will be looking forward to His coming.
8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ will confirm us until the end. That we may be blameless when? The day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Well when is that? 2 Peter 3:8 tells us one day with the Lord equals a thousand years. It’s the Lord’s Day. Jesus will carry us through to the very end.
9 God is faithful, by Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
God is faithful. It is He who calls us. He will never leave you or forsake you. He says it over and over again throughout his Word.
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
Now we get to the reason Paul is writing. He has learned (from the house of Chloe) that there are divisions among these people. He is telling them they should all be speaking the same thing. What should that be? The Word of the Lord and the teachings of Jesus Christ. There is only Word after all so why should there be strife? And yet think of all the division and strife we see today among Christians. It sounds like these people of Corinth are experiencing the same trouble we have now. Without studying and using God’s Word (and it alone) as our source of Truth we are guaranteed to be divided on His teachings. We’re just listening to everyone’s interpretations of His teachings. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather rely on His Word than on any man’s word.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were teachers but whose teachings were they teaching? Jesus Christ’s. These men are all just people. People doing God’s work, yes. But they’re still just people. All credit and glory belongs to God. No man is worthy to be idolized.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
Paul is thankful that he didn’t baptize more people from Corinth than he did because he doesn’t want anyone to say he baptized in his own name.
17 For 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.
Christ didn’t send Paul to baptize. Recall in Acts 9 that Jesus tells Paul his God given purpose. It is to “bear My name before the Gentiles (nations), and kings, and the children of Israel”. He was called to preach the gospel. Does he do it with eloquent language intended to persuade? No. He speaks simply. Some will hear and understand the message and some will not.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Those who do not know the Lord consider the teachings of the Lord foolishness. I see it all the time and I’m sure you do too. Take heart that God has told us this is how it will be. Those who know the Lord and love the Lord will understand and see the Truth in His teachings.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
This is quoted from Isaiah 29:14. You’ll find more context there to make the meaning clearer. I’ll start at verse 9 because I think it’s really important to see the big picture here.
Isaiah 29:9 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.
These people are drunken and stagger but not with strong drink. What’s the cause?
Isaiah 29:10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.
The Lord has poured out the spirit of deep sleep and closed their eyes. So we’re learning here that there are people who God has put in slumber while others are not. Other scripture tells us He does it out of mercy. Does this mean these people are physically asleep or something deeper? Let’s read on.
Isaiah 29:11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:
Imagine an educated person who is presented with a book but he says he cannot read it because it is sealed.
Isaiah 29:12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.
The book is now delivered to an uneducated person but he says he cannot read it because he doesn’t have the knowledge. So both the educated and the uneducated person cannot read this book. Perhaps their eyes have been closed by God? Perhaps this is the slumber referred to in verse 9. It is God after all who grants knowledge as He sees fit. Since we know He is a just God we can trust He does this for a very good reason.
Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men:
Really take this verse in. The Lord says that these people say the right things – claim to love God – but they have not given their hearts to Him. Their reverence or love for God is taught by the precepts of men.
If we’re relying solely on a man (any person) to teach us of God then we’re not learning much really. We’re not learning everything. We are humans. We are flawed. We should be going to the source directly. Without doing so we can’t truly know Him, we only know one man’s interpretation of Him.
14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
Here’s the verse we came to Isaiah for but hopefully it makes more sense now that we’ve studied the few prior. The wisdom of their wise men shall perish. Whose wise men? The men (people) wise according to the world. That wisdom will perish. That wisdom isn’t enough. If you’re wise only in the ways of the world you will lack true understanding because the wisdom of the world doesn’t bring the wisdom of God. True knowledge doesn’t come from the world, it comes from God. It’s up to God to bestow it upon us but it’s up to us to ask for it (from Him) and seek it out.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Where are you getting your information? This world is getting more and more foolish, isn’t it? We’re growing farther from the Lord and His teachings. Do you know the wisdom of this world versus the wisdom from God? It’s easy to get it confused when we’re relying on someone else to interpret God’s message to us without checking it all out for ourselves.
21 For 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.
Even though the unwise (to God’s wisdom) think it’s foolish it pleases God to bring forward the Word so that those who want to know Him better can gain understanding and grow in their faith. And aren’t we lucky for that?
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
The manuscripts read ‘Gentiles’ instead of ‘Greeks’. There are people who ask for signs or seek after the wisdom of this world, yet we are to continue to preach the Truth. God will open the eyes of those He calls just as He opened the eyes of Paul.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Though many will call faith in God and His teachings foolishness and weakness, it is ALWAYS stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But 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;
28 And 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:
29 That no flesh should glory in His presence.
These people of Corinth who are called by God (as those of us are today) can see that God doesn’t call many men (people) the world might consider wise, mighty, or noble. It’s not the world that determines who can do the work of God. If it was then wouldn’t you think Paul, as someone who despised the Lord, would be an odd choice? But we don’t have the wisdom of our Lord. Only He is sovereign. It is He who is the originator of knowledge. God chooses what the world may consider small or unwise and accomplishes great things through them. God can use anyone He sees fit for the fulfillment of His plan.
Never wonder if you are enough. If God sees fit to use you then you are absolutely enough. Remember 1:5-7. It is God who grants knowledge and enriches us. He sees to it that we are not lacking in any gifts that we may need to do His work.
30 But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Let’s take this back to the Greek in the manuscripts. The first part reads ‘But of Him (God) are ye in Christ Jesus, Who from God became to us’. God sent Jesus Christ to become to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification (holiness), and redemption. We are unworthy of it, but He has granted us His unmerited favor and forgiveness through the offering of Jesus Christ.
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
This last verse references Jeremiah 9:23-24. We are not to glory in wisdom, might, or riches. We are to glory in our understanding and knowing of the Lord.