We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 1. Paul begins addressing this letter not only to the Corinthians, but to all who call on the name of Jesus. As you read below, all who call on the name of Jesus have been sanctified in Christ. The word translated into: “To those who have been sanctified” is hagiazó, which means “I make holy, treat as holy, set apart as holy, sanctify, hallow, purify.” All who call on the name of Jesus have been made holy. Have been set apart as holy. Have been treated as holy. Have been purified. Praise God! It’s been done!
Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
v. 1-3 (NASB)
Paul was called as an apostle (a messenger, one sent on a mission), not by his own will, but by the will of God. God has to be the one to call us and send us out. We can’t call or send ourselves out.
I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
v. 4-9 (NASB)
The word “confirm” means “secure.” God will secure our sanctification (holiness) to the end, so that we will be blameless when Christ returns. We can stop worrying about failing and worrying that we’ve fallen beyond recovery. God won’t fail us. He will lift us up. We are always secure in Him.
Even though we are sanctified in Him, His holiness is not always seen in us. We have to allow Him to work in us. For God’s holiness to be seen in us Paul exhorts us to:
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.
v. 10-17 (NASB)
It is not God’s will for the church to be divided. Jesus is the head of the church. He is the One we need to be following. When we are each following Him, doing what He sends us out to do, we will not be divided.
I like how the Amplified version translates the last verse above:
For Christ (the Messiah) sent me out not to baptize but [to evangelize by] preaching the glad tidings (the Gospel), and that not with verbal eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of force and emptied of its power and rendered vain (fruitless, void of value, and of no effect).
v. 17 (AMP)
This is a powerful statement! When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to minister through us, and instead try to minister His Word through our own wisdom, the words we preach will lack the power to produce fruit. God says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11, KJV). When God sends His Word out through us, we can be certain that it will produce fruit.
In the rest of the chapter, Paul talks about God’s wisdom versus the world’s wisdom.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
v. 18-25 (AMP)
All the wisdom and power of God are in Christ. That’s why Jesus said apart from Him we can do nothing. If we remain in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5). Paul said, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”
God calls those who are not wise by human standards to shame those who are. He humbles all this way so that no one can boast before Him. The one who is wise by the world’s standard is humbled when their wisdom is brought down by someone who is not influential or intellectual in the world. The one who is not considered wise by the world’s standard is humbled when God speaks through them because they know that it is God’s power and wisdom speaking through them, not their own.
We praise You for sanctifying us in Christ and confirming us to the end so that we will be blameless at His return. We praise You for Your wisdom and power in Christ. Help us to remain in Him and allow Your Holy Spirit to produce fruit in and through us. We humbly rely on You and Your wisdom, not our own.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!
*We will continue next week with studying 1 Corinthians 2. Have a blessed week remaining in Christ and relying on His wisdom!