Category Archives: 1 CORINTHIANS 1

An epistle setting out the principles upon which believers should act as they gather together.

1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

The Old Testament was divided into three sections, the law, the psalms and the prophets. The Lord Jesus sanctioned that division in Luke 24:44. He effectively divided the New Testament also into three sections as He spoke to His own in the upper room. He explained that the Holy Spirit would bring all things to their remembrance, John 14:26. This would involve His earthly ministry as recorded in the four gospels. He also spoke of the Spirit leading them into all the truth, 16:13, which would be the epistles. Then that same Holy Spirit would tell them things to come, verse 13 again, which would include not only the Book of Revelation, but also other scriptures, for there are prophetic passages in the epistles.

It is appropriate that the epistles to the Romans and the Corinthians should stand at the beginning of the more doctrinal section of the New Testament, for they are foundational in character. The epistle to the Romans defines the gospel, and establishes the believer in the truth of his righteous standing before God, whereas the epistle to the Corinthians is collective. It is not God’s purpose that His people should live their lives in isolation, except in unusual circumstances, such as pioneering the gospel in remote regions. Christianity is essentially collective in character. The figures of speech that are used to describe the church make this clear. A temple must have many stones; a flock must have many sheep; a vine must have many branches; a body must have many limbs and organs. Sheep, branches and limbs must be together. It is not enough for them to be many, they must also be together.

God has set down clearly how believers should relate to one another, and we do well to take note, so that we may be in line with His will. Those who believed the gospel on the Day of Pentecost and after, “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”, Acts 2:42. The word “apostles'” relates to both doctrine and fellowship in that verse, so the believers only believed what the apostles believed and taught, and they only had fellowship in what the apostles were involved in. This made their lives very simple, and it would make ours simple, too, if we followed their example, and continued steadfastly in it. Part of the apostolic doctrine is found in the Epistle to the Corinthians, so let us turn our attention to it, that we may learn its lessons, and follow its instructions, to God’s glory. He is looking for obedience from His people; what Romans 1:5 calls “obedience to the faith”.

SUMMARY OF THE EPISTLE

The First Epistle to the Corinthians may be looked at as the response to communications sent to the apostle from various sources.

In chapters 1-4 he responds to a message from the household of Chloe regarding the disunity of the assembly at Corinth. This the apostle deals with by getting to the heart of the problem, which was the harmful influence the world’s way of thinking was having upon them.

In chapters 5-7 he deals with a matter which, sadly, was commonly reported about them, even their tolerance of moral evil in the company. He shows how they should deal with it in chapter 5, then how they should not deal with it, in chapter 6. They should deal with the matter within the assembly, and not resort to the law-courts of the world. In chapter 7 he gives guidance on the subject of marriage which, if followed, would prevent the immorality they were tolerating. Chapter 7 forms a bridge between two sections, for it follows on from chapters 5 and 6, but also begins the remaining section of the epistle in which the apostle answers questions the Corinthians had asked him. Each answer is prefaced by the words, “Now concerning”, or “as concerning”, or “as touching”.

Chapter 7:1 “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman”.

Chapter 7:25 “Now concerning virgins”.

Chapter 8:1 “Now as touching things offered to idols”.

Chapter 12:1 “Now concerning spiritual gifts”.

Chapter 16:1 “Now concerning the collection for the saints.

Chapter 16:12 “Now as touching our brother Apollos”.

STRUCTURE OF CHAPTER 1

(a) Verses 1-3 Introduction and greeting.

(b) Verses 4-9 Expression of thanks for God’s provision for the assembly.

(c) Verse 10 Exhortation to unity.

(d) Verses 11-16 Exposure of disunity.

(e) Verses 17,18 The wisdom of words is damaging.

(f) Verses 19,20 The wisdom of the wise of this world is destroyed.

(g) Verses 21-29 The wisdom of God is demonstrated.

(h) Verses 30,31 The wisdom of God directs all the glory to Himself.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 1 TO 3

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

1:2 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 their’s and our’s:

1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(a)   Verses 1-3    Introduction and greeting.

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

Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ- an apostle is one sent forth from another, with the full authority of that person, and with the resources he makes available. We notice how the apostle emphasises his apostleship here, for there were some at Corinth who were disputing whether he was a fully-fledged apostle. They possibly had in mind that he had not been with the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry, and therefore was not one of The Twelve. This is the point, however, for Paul’s apostleship was from a risen and ascended Christ, and it was such a Person that Paul was commissioned to represent, preach, and teach. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians Paul asserts the validity of his apostleship, for the signs of an apostle were evident in his ministry, 2 Corinthians 12;12. He also makes clear to the Galatians that those who had been with the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry, (those who “seemed to be somewhat”), had nothing to add to him by way of authority or truth, Galatians 2:6.

There are not lacking today those who reject the authority of the writings of the apostle Paul. Such should remember the fact that he was sent out by the Lord Jesus personally, Acts 26:15-18, and his writings are the commandments of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 14:6. The apostle Peter recognised them as scripture, and on the same level of authority as the “other scriptures”, meaning the rest of the Word of God, 2 Peter 3:16.

Through the will of God- having been called to be an apostle through the determinative, and therefore settled, will of God, he was resolved to remain within the confines of that will. His apostleship, far from being of man, (self-appointed, or of a man-made order), or through man, (appointed in a secondary way by the other apostles), was from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Galatians 1:1. He was “not a whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles”, 2 Corinthians 11:5, for he had done what they had not done, namely, seen the Lord Jesus in resurrection glory in heaven.

If we have a desire to conform to the will of God, we shall be guided by the word of God, for that is the only source of infallible guidance. The apostle shows in Romans 12:1-2 that those who present their bodies a living sacrifice to God in worshipful devotion; who strive not to be conformed to this world; who are constantly transformed as their minds are occupied with the new things Christ has introduced, will find that they will prove what the will of God is. They will not zig-zag through this world trying to find the will of God by trial and error, but will know beforehand what it is. As Abraham’s servant said, “I being in the way, the Lord led me”, Genesis 24:27. Having set out on a course of obedience to Abraham’s instructions, and being dependant upon God, he accomplished his mission successfully. So we, knowing through the doctrine of Scripture what the will of God is for us in principle, shall be enabled to work it out in practice, to His glory.

One of the features, therefore, which marks those who are in assembly fellowship is a desire to hear the word of God. This cannot be done unless there is a willingness to bow to the authority of the apostles, who spoke, and wrote, as those who had been called of the Lord to teach His people. As such, they moved within the confines of the will of God. It is not proper for the will of man to set aside apostolic authority, for that involves challenging God’s sovereign will. We do well to remember the language of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:37, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord”. See also 1 John 4:6, where “us” means the apostles, and 2 Peter 3:1,2.

The very fact that apostles were amongst the Lord’s people at all was evidence that Christ had ascended up on high, had triumphed over the forces of evil, and, having received gifts from His Father, had bestowed them, like the trophies of a great victory, on His people. See Ephesians 4:8-11. To despise, or simply to ignore, the teaching of the apostles, is to regard lightly the magnitude of the triumph of Christ.

The apostles were responsible for laying the doctrinal foundation of the assembly, Ephesians 2:20. To heed their doctrine is vital, to ignore it is fatal. We can go astray in two directions in this matter of doctrine. We can look to the past, and embrace the traditions of men. The Lord Jesus was surrounded in His day by those who taught for commandments the doctrines of men, and He condemned them with the words- “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition”, Mark 7:9.

Alternatively, we can look to the present, and embrace the trends amongst men. This too is contrary to the will of God, for He has said through the apostle John, “Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning.” 1 John 2:24. The only safe course is to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, Acts 2:42.

The fact that we are constantly exhorted to heed, and practise, the teaching of the Scriptures, is clear indication that truth may be known. Rather than look to man’s tradition and trends, we should look into God’s truth. It is not the preserve of the few to understand it, but is presented to all believers for their recognition and obedience, 2 Peter 3:2. Nor is it vague in its meaning, but is written in terms which all believers may grasp, if dependant upon the Spirit of God, John 7:17, 1 John 2:27.

Doctrine is not to be accepted or rejected according to the whim of the individual. Apostolic doctrine comes from God, who is the source of all absolute values, and as such is to be accepted without reserve. The modern notion that nothing is settled, and that truth lies in the opinion of the individual, is foreign to the Scriptures.

And Sosthenes our brother- notice that although the epistle comes from Paul alone, (for in verse 4 he says “I thank my God”), nonetheless he associates Sosthenes with himself in his greeting. Now since there is no explanation as to who Sosthenes is, and he is mentioned as if the Corinthians would know who he is, we may perhaps be justified in thinking that he is the man mentioned by Luke as being at one time the chief ruler of the synagogue at Corinth, Acts 18:17. When Paul went to Corith and preached in the synagogue, Crispus the chief ruler of the synagogue was converted, Acts 18:8. It seems as though Sosthenes had been appointed in his place, (thus showing that Crispus immediately left the synagogue and joined himself to Paul, who was teaching in a house next door to the synagogue), and then himself got saved. Subsequently he was ill treated by the Greeks in the city. We see two things here, at least. First, Crispus immediately distanced himself from the synagogue, realising that the coming of Christ had rendered such Old Testament institutions obsolete. Second, Sosthenes made a stand for Christ and was persecuted for it, for “all who will live godly in this world shall suffer persecution”, 2 Timothy 3:12.

Despite being a former chief ruler, (assuming the above to be correct), Sosthenes is simply described here as being “our brother”, showing that the Corinthians knew him as such. In fact, the phrase is even more definite, for “our” is in italics, and the literal rendering would be “the brother”. That is, “the one you Corinthians know of as a brother, and who has relinquished any title the Jewish synagogue may have conferred upon him”. Now that he is in assembly fellowship, he has come into the new brotherhood, those whom the Lord Jesus Himself is not ashamed to call His brethren, Hebrews 2:11.

This is not to say that an assembly should be without those who guide and direct, (the apostle will write later on about the gift of governments, 12:28), but that must be done by the power of the Spirit. A man is not qualified to lead in the assembly simply because he has, or had, some leadership role among men.

1:2 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 their’s and our’s:

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth- the letter is addressed to a company of believers, described as the church of God which is at Corinth. We know from other scriptures that there was at least one heathen temple in Corinth, and probably more, but this was of Satan. There was at least one synagogue, but this was of the Jews. Only of this company of believers can it be said that it is of God. This means it is important, as everything that is of God must be. It is important to God, for He gave His Son that the church at Corinth might be His. This is true of every genuine church.

The word church is much abused in our day. Some still insist on using the word of a physical building; others use it in a vague way such as in the expression “Church of England”. The use of the word here, however, is very specific.

We must first of all establish what is meant by a church. The only valid way of doing this is to take note of the meaning of the word translated “church”, and also the way it is used in the New Testament.

The Greek word rendered church is made up of two parts, the first meaning “out of”, the second meaning “a calling”. The two together indicate a called out company of people, separated from men in general and called together for specific purposes.

The word is used in four main senses in the New Testament, but not always in connection with Christians. A brief look, however, at the way the word is used in other senses will help us to see why the Holy Spirit took it up to use in relation to believers.

The word is used in the following ways:-

1. By Stephen, Acts 7:38, of the nation of Israel when they were in the wilderness.

2. By the town-clerk of Ephesus, Acts19:39, of a company of unbelievers.

3. By the Lord Jesus and His apostles of all the Christians of this present age, Matthew 16:18, Colossians 1:18.

4. By the Lord Jesus and His apostles of the Christians who meet together in a particular locality, Matthew 18:17, 1 Corinthians 1:2.

The first two uses of the word will help us to understand the last use, which is our present subject. A reading of the passages mentioned above will clearly show that the word church is never used of a material building. It is also clear from 1 Corinthians 5:2,13 that it is possible to be a true believer, and therefore in the church which is Christ’s body, and yet not be in a local church, either because one has been put away from it, or has never joined.

Stephen uses the word church of the nation of Israel because they were a called-out company. They had been redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb, as described in Exodus 12; “baptised” in the Red Sea, Exodus 14:21,22; 1 Corinthians 10:1,2; and brought to the foot of Mount Sinai to listen to God’s word, Exodus 19:17, 20:1. As such they give to us an illustration of those in this age who have been called out of the world by the gospel; redeemed by the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God; baptised in water to signify, amongst other things, allegiance to Him; and gathered together as a church in a locality to bow to the authority of the word of God. This illustration should not be pressed too far, however, or else we shall arrive at the unscriptural notion that since infants crossed the Red Sea, then infant baptism is in order. The Scriptures are crystal clear that this is not the case.

The town clerk of Ephesus used the word in its secular sense in Acts 19:39, when he spoke of a “lawful assembly”. The townsfolk would understand that he meant by this a gathering of those possessing civic rights in a free Greek city, who were called together for the carrying out of public affairs. Strangers, and those deprived of citizenship, could not be part of this called out company.’

When we put these two uses of the word together, and apply them to a local church, we can say it has the following characteristics:

1. Only believers. It is composed only of those who have responded to the call of God in the gospel, and have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, just as a civic assembly did not include strangers.

2. Only those sound in doctrine and morals. It is composed only of those who have not forfeited their rights because of moral or doctrinal evil, just as a civic assembly did not consist of those who had been deprived of the rights of citizenship through misconduct.

3. Only those baptized. It is composed only of those who have been baptized by immersion in water after they were saved, just as all the people of Israel went through the Red Sea to get to the wilderness.

4. Only those subject to God’s Word. It is composed only of those who are prepared to submit to the authority of the Word of God, just as Israel gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai to hear God speaking to them, and then said “all that the Lord hath spoken we will do”, Exodus 19:8. Moses called that day “The day of the assembly”, Deuteronomy 9:10.

5. Only those who have joined. It is composed only of those who have been exercised in heart to join, just as the Israelites had been exercised in heart to sprinkle the blood, cross the sea, and gather at Sinai. When Paul went to Jerusalem, he “assayed to join himself to the disciples”, Acts 9:26. The word for join means to cement, or glue, and therefore indicates an act of commitment, not the start of a casual relationship.

Only the church of God at Corinth was addressed in exactly the way we find here. This would emphasise the basic nature of the epistle, in which first principles are being set out.

It is worth noting that the English word “church” is not derived from the Greek word “eklesia”, but is from the word “kuriakos”, meaning “belonging to the Lord”. Hence it is preferable to use the word assembly when speaking of that which in our Authorised Version is translated church.

We have already briefly considered the ideas behind the word translated here as church. We must now notice, however, the words “of God”. The company of Christians which met in corrupt Corinth belonged to God. How solemn, and yet how encouraging, to remember that the reason an assembly belongs to God is because He has purchased it by “His own blood”, that is, by means of the sacrifice of Christ, Acts 20:28.

The assembly in Corinth could be described in 1 Corinthians 3:9 as His husbandry. They were His cultivated plot, a paradise in the midst of a barren desert. What a privilege it was to be part of such a company, and to have the opportunity to give pleasure to the heart of God, just as a beautiful garden delights the one who tends it and cares for it. We must never lose sight of the fact that the primary purpose of an assembly is to gratify God’s heart. Important as gospel work is, the assembly should not be thought of merely as a gospel mission.

So an assembly exists to give pleasure to its owner. Those who have the immense privilege of forming part of such a company will do their utmost to see that the maximum amount of pleasure is given to God through their efforts. They will also do their utmost to exclude any activity which causes Him displeasure, as indicated in His word.

The fact that an assembly belongs to God also indicates that it is of first importance to Him. Those who long to be in harmony with God’s mind will see to it that the assembly to which they belong is of first importance to them as well, and that the interests of self do not override the vital necessity of being committed wholeheartedly to God’s interests. The pace of life in the world of today makes it necessary as perhaps never before to strive to ensure that spiritual and eternal things have first place in our lives.

To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints-the word saint is one of those that the Holy Spirit has extracted from its secular use, and lifted to a higher plane. The word saint originally meant “one dedicated to the gods”, one who was devoted to furthering the interests of the idol-system that flourished all around in the pagan world. Now the word means one who is dedicated to the True God, passionate about furthering His interests in the world. It is a word, moreover, that applies to all believers, for the apostle does not divide up the assembly at Corinth into saints and non-saints, but classes every believer in the assembly as a saint. And this is the situation with all believers; they are not called to become saints, as if it is a gradual process, but are saints by Divine calling, and as such should perfect holiness in the fear of God, 2 Corinthians 7:1.

The unbeliever uses the word saint either of someone who has been given that title by the religious establishment, or of someone who stands out from others because of his goodness. The proper use of the word saint is the Scriptural one, which is of those who, having been “sanctified in Christ Jesus”, are called to a life of holiness. To be a saint, to be sanctified, to be holy, to be set apart, are identical terms. When God calls men by the gospel, and they repent and believe, He sets them apart from their former associations and conduct. No longer does He reckon them to be in Adam, but in Christ Jesus, the One who is risen, glorified, and set apart at God’s right hand in heaven. By the call of God, then, they are saints, and His separating call gives character to the rest of their lives.

We must remember that to be a saint, one of God’s separated ones, is a positive thing. After all, holiness is one of God’s attributes. Since He is unchanging, He has always been holy, and therefore was holy before there was anything evil. It follows that holiness is not simply separation from evil, but wholehearted commitment to things that are in harmony with God’s holy character.

Sadly, the Corinthian believers had forgotten this, which is no doubt why the apostle reminds them of sanctification so early in his epistle. He goes on to deal with their lack of holiness in three main areas:

1. Lack of holiness as to the soul, chapters 1-4, where he warns against the world’s wisdom.

2. Lack of holiness as to the body, chapters 5-7, where he warns against the world’s wickedness.

3. Lack of holiness as to the spirit, chapters 8-11, where he warns against the world’s worship.

The apostle shows in 1 Corinthians 1:17-31 that the cross of Christ is the means by which men are brought into right relationship with Himself. They cannot reason their way to a knowledge of Himself by using the wisdom of the world. The princes of this world, those well-versed in its way of thinking, were so ignorant of who Christ really was that they crucified Him! 1 Corinthians 2:8. Only by receiving the wisdom of God revealed in His word, (the theme of chapter 2), can believers be right and holy in their thinking. There is no room in God’s assembly for those who hold and teach doctrine which has its origin in the mind of man, see 1 Corinthians 3:17-20.

The word “corinthian” is found in our dictionaries today, and means an immoral person. The conduct of those around them had influenced the believers at Corinth, hence the apostle had to instruct them in chapters 5-7 as to separation in this area of life too. Just as those who hold wrong doctrine are to be excluded from the assembly, so also, those who are guilty of immoral conduct are to be expelled, for “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 1 Corinthians 5:6. It is imperative that those who apply for assembly fellowship take this into account.

All around in Corinth were idol temples, whose devotees offered their sacrifices to demons. The mighty power of God in the gospel had delivered many Corinthians from this, however, and now they were separated to a life of devotion to God. This devotion would express itself in many ways during the week, but as a matter of priority they would meet together on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper together, in accordance with His own command. With the loaf and the cup before them, they would remember the Lord Jesus, who had given Himself that they might be brought into relationship with God. As they contemplated the preciousness of His person, they would be moved to “worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”, Philippians 3:3.

The apostle can describe these saints as those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. This was one of their leading features. Conscious of their need, they find resources to supply that need in one whose concern is for their good. Another reason why the Lordship of Christ is emphasised is because, although they called on the name of the Lord, they were inconsistent in that they were guilty of making men into party leaders, whereas Christ had forewarned them to not call anyone Master, or Leader, “for one is your Master (Leader), even Christ”, Matthew 23:10.

With all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s- believers can be described as those that call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ because that is one of their characteristic and leading features. This feature is true of all believers in every place.  All who call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord are called to sainthood with a Divine calling. This being the case, they should not put their trust in men, as some were doing by forming parties around prominent teachers. Part of their duty as saints or separated ones, was to distance themselves from party-spirit.

All believers know from God’s word that an appeal on the ground of the name of Jesus Christ our Lord will receive a response that takes account of who He is, John 16:23,24. This is because the Father delights to respond to the mention of the name of His Son. The very fact that they are saved at all is due to the fact that they called upon His name, for “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”, Romans 10:13. Resting their hope of salvation on Him alone, they were certainly not disappointed, for “the same Lord over all is rich unto all them that call upon Him.” Romans 10:12.

This initial calling upon His name for salvation is followed by a reliance on his name as the gathering-centre of his people. In Matthew 18:20 the Lord Jesus had promised that “where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them”.

Three matters call for attention in this verse:

1. If He is present at every gathering of this character taking place in any part of the world, The Lord Jesus must be omnipresent, and therefore this promise is founded on His Deity. Those who gather in His name do so because they believe that the Lord Jesus is equal with God.

2. The word “are” is not part of the verb “gather together”. This means that the two or three in question “are” in a particular place because of a particular reason. That reason being that they have deliberately gathered together in His name. Just because two or three Christians are in the same place does not mean that the Lord Jesus is present in the way spoken of here.

3. The preposition translated “in”, is the word “eis”, which is not a static word, but rather indicates progress towards a goal. In this context its use means that those who gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus fully intend that He be central to all that they do when together. The honour of His name is their goal as they meet. The names of men, however saintly, or of doctrines, however important, can never be a substitute for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Whilst preparing His disciples for His going away from them back to heaven, the Lord had said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you” John 16:23. As an assembly gathers together for collective prayer, therefore, they have the assurance that to pray to God in the name of the Lord Jesus is to receive a response. This does not simply mean that they mention His name at the end of their prayers, but that all they ask for should be in harmony with the character of the One who bears that name. It also means that the dignity of His name will regulate them as they come together. They will gladly obey the clear instructions of the Scriptures that it is the male members of the assembly who should lead audibly in prayer, and the female members who should fulfil their very positive and vital role by remaining silent and dressing in a becoming way, 1 Timothy 2.

When Abraham reached the land of Canaan, “The Lord appeared unto Abram…and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him”, and again, “He builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord”, Genesis 12:7,8. Like Abraham before the Lord appeared unto him, many of the Corinthians had formerly worshipped idols, but now they had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Met together with others of like mind, they sought to glorify God as they found Him revealed to them in His Son. “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased”. Hebrews 13:15,16. It is good to be intelligent when addressing God. Abraham called upon God in line with the way He had revealed Himself, in that case as Lord. We have the immense privilege of addressing God as Abba, Father, and we should avail ourselves of that great privilege, and not take a lower ground.

The second half of the quotation given above reminds us that a vital part of the worship of God’s people is the giving of their material possessions to support His interests. Unless the tithes are brought into the storehouse, the windows of heaven will not be opened to pour out a blessing, Malachi 3:10. It is significant and challenging that three things are especially associated with the first day of the week- the resurrection of Christ, John 20:1, the breaking of bread, Acts 20:7, and the collection for the saints, 1 Corinthians 16:1-3.

1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is often pointed out that when the apostle greeted the believers in this way, he was using the two words that Jews and Gentiles would use when they met. A Greek would greet his fellow-Greek with “Charis!”, the Greek word for grace, and a Jew would greet his fellow-Jew with “Shalom!”, the Hebrew for peace. As unbelievers greet one another, however, they are only expressing a kind wish; they have no power to bring the wish to pass. With the apostle, though, the greeting was no mere pious wish, but a prayer for their spiritual blessing. In accordance with the meaning of the word “assembly” both Jews and Greeks had been called out by the gospel from their respective environments, and had come to know the wonder of God’s grace. This grace, however, is ongoing, so the apostle does not have to hope that it be continued, but he does hope that the grace or unmerited favour of God may be enjoyed by them. It is possible to begin to forget that everything worthwhile we have as believers comes to us as a result of the rich grace of God. We should revel in this favour, and this the apostle desires the Corinthians should do.

The same is true of peace. Having been brought into peace with God, (after having been at war with Him as sinners), which peace is constant, the apostle desires that believers be in the good of it. So the unbeliever wants grace and peace for his fellow in the future, whereas the apostle knows his fellow-believers already have it, but wants them to enjoy what they have.

It is to a church or assembly as constituted by God that the apostle sends this greeting, so the emphasis is on collective appreciation. It is a good thing when believers advance together in the things of God, having the same desires and aspirations. See Philippians 2:3:16. Sadly, there was a lack of grace and peace at Corinth, so the apostle seeks that they might be more in evidence. The more they appreciated God’s favour to them, and the peace He had made, the more harmony there would be amongst them, for instead of thinking about themselves, they would think on spiritual things.

The fact that these blessings come equally from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ is a testimony to His equality with the Father. In the ways of God the Lord Jesus is entrusted with administering everything in the house of God, for He is Son over the house, and so it is through Him that these blessings come. That God is our Father is one of the distinctive truths of Christianity, for saints of Old Testament days did not know God in this intimate way. The great privilege of being the children and sons of God is a result of the coming of the Son of God Himself, and the subsequent sending into our hearts of the Spirit of His Son, Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:9.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 4 TO 9

1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

(b)   Verses 4-9    Expression of thanks for God’s provision for the assembly.

1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

We should not think that “on your behalf” means that the Corinthians were not able to thank God for themselves, but had to leave that to the apostle, for every true believer has access to the Father through the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather, the idea is of thanking God concerning them. The apostle, as he considered the way God had blessed the assembly, was constrained to lift up his heart in thanksgiving to God. We might well follow his example of thankfulness. We live in a world that is “unthankful and unholy”, but this should not be the hallmark of the people of God.

The special subject of the thanksgiving of the apostle is the grace that had been given to them by Jesus Christ. Thinking of grace as unmerited favour, we learn that since they had been saved and brought into assembly fellowship, God had bestowed on them rich blessings, and all because of their association with Jesus Christ, for all God’s benefits are channelled through Him.

1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge

Notice that Paul does not highlight the gifts that they were highlighting. He does not mention tongues-speaking. This is all the more marked because it was legitimate at that time to teach the word of God and give words of wisdom by use of the gift of tongues. He commends them for their making known of the truth of God, and for their knowledge of it, and sees in that activity evidence that God has enriched them. They might be poor naturally, but they were rich spiritually. The question on the mind of the apostle was as to how they were using those riches.

The particular benefit the apostle has in mind is the bestowal of gifts. As he will say in verse 7, they came behind in no gift. Every true believer has one or more Divinely-given gifts. The apostle makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 12:6,7. “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal”. By the expression “worketh all in all” the apostle indicates that the sum total of the things God desires to accomplish through the gifts given to His people is achieved when all the gifts are used aright by those who possess them. By the expression “to profit withal” the apostle means the profit of all in the company. So in verse 6 he is concerned about God’s purpose, and in verse 7 he is concerned about the profit of the believers. Clearly the matter of the exercise of gift must be important if the purpose of God and the profit of believers is involved.

Only in the context of assembly gatherings can the expression “to every man” in 1 Cor.12:7 be practised. In the systems and arrangements of men, the majority of gifts are assumed to reside in one man, together with special authority to administer the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. This is completely foreign to the word of God. The apostle uses the human body as an illustration as he writes in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, and shows how ridiculous it would be if all the abilities of the human body were concentrated in one member. “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” With these things in mind, let us briefly notice what the apostle says about gifts in 1 Corinthians 1:4-8.

Not only does God grant His salvation in grace to those who believe, but He continues to act in grace in the giving of spiritual gifts. Grace, by definition, is unmerited favour, so these gifts are not to be confused with any natural talent that may be possessed already. Nor are they given as a result of growth in spirituality, for then they would be merited-gifts and not grace-gifts.

Note the expressions in verse 5, “in everything”, “all utterance”, “all knowledge”, and also in verse 7, “come behind in no gift”. If there are companies where there seems to be a shortage of gifts, then the fault must lie with men and not God. Perhaps there are believers living near the gathering-place of the assembly, who travel to meet elsewhere. Or maybe there is a failure on the part of those in that assembly to stir up the gift of God which is in them, a possibility the apostle even warned Timothy about, 2 Timothy 1:6.

There are three passages where the subject of gifts is dealt with, 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4. In the latter passage the gifts are the men themselves who have gift. The Lord Jesus has ascended up to the very highest place in heaven, and it is from that position of power and authority that He has given gifts. These gifts are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The purpose of these gifts is that all the members of the body of Christ, (the sum total of believers of this present age), may progress towards conformity to the moral glory of Christ, in unity with one another, Ephesians 4:12-15. The emphasis here is on the progress of the whole body of believers, not the fact that each believer has a gift.

In Romans 12:6-8 the gifts enable certain actions to be performed, as follows: prophecy; ministry; teaching; exhortation; giving; ruling, showing mercy. Those who have presented their bodies a living sacrifice, who have determined not to be conformed to the world, and who are being constantly transformed by the renewing of their mind, are in a position to exercise these gifts for the furtherance of the spiritual welfare of the saints.

In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 the list of gifts is as follows: The word of wisdom; the word of knowledge; faith; gifts of healing; working of miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; diverse kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Now all these gifts have been withdrawn, for there is no need for them now. The completed canon of Scripture supplies us with wisdom and knowledge. The sign the gift of tongues, for instance, represents has made its point, and the need is gone.

Those who claim to have this gift today must show several things. First, that what they have is what believers had at the beginning. Second, that the restoration of the gift is to be expected, (for it is a historical fact that it ceased). Third, that there is a need for the gift. Fourth, that the result of the exercise of the gift is the exaltation of Christ as Lord.

It is very obvious that modern charismatics cannot give satisfactory responses to any of these four points. Until they do, believers would be well advised to distance themselves from the whole movement, including the Alpha Course.

If, as is suggested, these gifts have been withdrawn, it might be asked why they are listed here. Three reasons may be given. First, since they were in use when the epistle was written, it was appropriate to mention them as examples of spiritual gifts. Second, one of them at least, the gift of tongues, was being over-emphasised at Corinth, and the apostle needs to correct this in chapter 14. Third,now that these have been withdrawn, and also now that there are those who claim to possess them, we need a standard by which to assess the genuineness or otherwise of modern claims.

We should ask the following questions of those who claim to possess these gifts today. Why is there a manifestation of this gift now, when centuries passed without it being manifest? What Scripture leads us to believe that the gift would be restored? The gift of tongues was given to further the edification of the saints, see 14:1-19. Can modern tongues pass this test? Is anything intelligible uttered? If it is, does it add to the Word of God, or confirm it? If the former, then it comes under the curse of Revelation 22:18. If the latter, it is unnecessary, for the word of God was completed centuries ago, so that Jude could write about the faith that had been once for all delivered to the saints. There was nothing more to add, for the Spirit had led the New Testament writers into all the truth, as the Lord Jesus had promised He would, John 16:13.

Charismatics seek to evade these searching questions by asserting that they speak with the tongues of angels, and therefore we should not expect to understand them. We should notice, however, that in 1 Corinthians 13:1 the apostle refers to the tongues of men and angels, not the tongues of men orangels. In other words, when angels speak to men, they do so in the language of the men addressed. There is not a choice between angel-tongues and men-tongues. Even if angels do speak a different language in heaven, they do so to be understood in heaven. The purpose of tongues spoken on earth is to be understood on earth. It should be noticed, however, that Isaiah seems to have had no difficulty in understanding what the seraphim said in Isaiah 6:3, nor John in the Book of the Revelation.

We are entitled to enquire whether this gift is exercised according to the principles laid down by the apostles. Are the sisters silent in the gatherings? Have they covered heads and long hair? Are the proceedings conducted in an orderly and dignified way? If the answer to these questions is in the negative, then we may safely conclude that the gift is spurious. It is important to remember that humans are capable of deceiving themselves, and of being deceived. We should also notice that the gifts, including tongues, were not imparted to all. The language of the apostle is clear- “to one…to another”. His question at the end of the chapter is to the same effect, “Do all speak with tongues?” Clearly the answer is that all did not speak with tongues. The idea, then, that the gift should be sought, and that it is an indication that the Spirit dwells within, is false.

The fact that not every believer in those days should have expected to possess the gift of tongues is seen in verse 11, for the gifts are divided severally according to the will of the Spirit. So it is not His will to impart each gift to every believer. The gifts are distributed (“dividing”) to separate individuals, (“severally”). We would do well to ponder this point, and assess our attitude to this truth.

It is good to be clear in our minds that the gift of tongues is not for today. It is equally good to be clear that the Spirit does still distribute to each believer those gifts that are for today. Which should prompt us to ask ourselves whether the gift which has been given is being used. Remember God works in each member of the assembly for the profit of all- any lack of exercise of gift on the part of one, therefore, means that there is less profit for all. Since a gift is a spiritual thing, it should have precedence over natural things. We should not let self and the world stand in the way of the use of gift. The world is increasingly saying, in the language of the king of Sodom to Abraham, “Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself”. In everyday terms this is the same as saying “Give me your time and energy, and I will give you a large salary”. Abraham was strengthened to resist that temptation, and so should we be, resolutely determining to put the interests of God and His assembly first in both our thoughts and actions. This will undoubtedly involve sacrifices as matters of lesser importance are let go, and the primary purpose in the life of the believer is concentrated upon.

In 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 the apostle lists gifts in their order of importance, for he uses the words “first…secondarily…thirdly”, and thus adjusts the thinking of the Corinthians, who were giving prominence to those gifts he lists last. Included in this list, being appropriate for an assembly epistle, are the two gifts of helps and governments.

Putting these scriptures together, and omitting gifts that no longer exist, we have the following:

Believers as gifts: evangelists; pastors and teachers.

Gifts that believers have: teaching; ministry; exhortation; giving; ruling; showing mercy; helps, and governments. Possibly the ruling and the government are the same, in which case there are seven gifts available to believers.

The question is sometimes asked, “How may I know what my gift is?” We may answer this question by remembering that the apostle uses the figure of a human body to illustrate the doctrine he is setting out. Just as the individual members of our bodies have abilities, so individual believers have gifts or abilities also. Some members of our body have more than one gift or ability, but they are all there to make a contribution.

First, our organs and limbs have been put in place by God “as it hath pleased Him”, 1 Corinthians 12:18, and they function as they do because of this. Some gifts bring with them a certain amount of prominence, such as teaching or exhortation. So it is with spiritual gifts. They are given to individual believers in accordance with the particular function they have to perform. For example, the gift of ruling or will not be given to a sister, for that is not within her range of activity in the assembly.

Second, they show their ability by functioning efficiently. Believers manifest that they have a particular gift when it is obvious that they have the appropriate spiritual ability to work out that gift. It will be equally obvious if they are unfitted for a particular work.

Third, they do so because the life principle in the body gives them energy to operate. Spiritual gifts are the manifestation of the indwelling Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 12:7, the life-principle in the body of Christ. So He is the source of them, and He is the power by which they function. No amount of natural ability can compensate for a lack of spiritual gift.

A believer therefore may know his or her gift by being in harmony with the Spirit who gave the gift, by having a Spirit-led desire to exercise a particular gift, and by using that gift in a manner honouring to the Lord and helpful to the saints.

Those in a place of responsibility as elders in the assembly should be alert to the first signs of a gift being exercised, and should encourage this in every way possible. They should also step in when it is obvious that a believer is trying to exercise a gift he or she does not have. The assembly should not be wearied with those who are acting out of place. Such persons do indeed have a gift, so they should be helped to find it.

The elders should also ensure that teaching is regularly given on the subject, so that all in the assembly are aware of this aspect of assembly life. There is something for all in the assembly to do for the profit of all. There is no such person as a believer without a gift, for gifts are one way the Spirit of God manifests Himself, and all believers have the Spirit within. To neglect a gift is to quench the Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, and to deprive the saints of the contribution that should be made.

1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

By means of the gifts given, especially those which involved utterance and knowledge, the truth concerning Christ that is received by faith for salvation initially, is constantly confirmed and reinforced to His glory. There is an ongoing need for the truth to be taught, and the appropriate gifts are given to ensure this happens. The apostles were careful to confirm the souls of those who believed, for the world represents an antagonistic force, and new believers, and, for that matter, older believers too, need constant exposure to apostolic doctrine. The unsearchable riches of Christ are not all learnt the night we get saved, but are entered into as we “follow on to know the Lord”, Hosea 6:3.

1:7 so that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this verse the apostle uses the word for coming which means an unveiling. While they wait for the Lord to reveal Himself at His coming, believers are to use their particular gift so that Christ is revealed in the locality by the testimony of the assembly.

At the present time the local assembly is charged with manifesting Christ in the district where they are. Just as a man’s body expresses him to others, so the apostle declares to the assembly at Corinth, (and, by extension, any Divinely-constituted assembly), “ye are (the) body of Christ, and members in particular”, 1 Corinthians 12:27. They were to reveal Him during the time of His absence, all the while waiting for Him to reveal Himself. One of the primary ways of doing this is through the exercise of gift, just as a man expresses what is in his mind by what he is able to do by means of his physical body.

1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The use, mis-use or non-use of gift will be reviewed in the day when the Lord Jesus reviews the activities of His people. This is called “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” because it is the time when His view of things is the only one. The word for “blameless” means “Not blamed when called in to face a charge”. We have been given a gift for a purpose, and it should be our earnest desire to fulfil that purpose. When called into the presence of the Head of the church to give account to Him for the way we have used the gifts He has given, we would surely not want to have a charge of neglect or mis-use of gift made against us, but rather to receive commendation for the use of gift in a God-honouring way. See 1 Corinthians 3:13-15.

1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Fellowship is enjoyed by those who share with one another the things which they have in common. As individuals, believers are able to have fellowship “with” the Father and “with” His Son Jesus Christ”, 1 John 1:3. The fellowship mentioned in this passage, however, is said to be the fellowship “of” His Son. This means that the Corinthian believers were called to share in the things that God’s Son was involved with. Of course, such a fellowship would be of the highest dignity, a fact that may be learned from the way the apostle describes it, using the full title “His Son Jesus Christ our Lord”. In fact the fellowship can be said to be defined by this title, being everything that such a glorious person can righteously associate Himself with. The Corinthians had been called by God to fellowship of such a character. As an assembly, they had been put into the position where they could freely share together in all the things of Christ. Only a Divinely-constituted assembly is in such a position.

Sadly, the Corinthians were failing to appreciate the blessedness of allowing the name of Christ to govern their fellowship. They had begun to divide into parties, and thus earn the rebuke of the apostle for their contentions and divisions. Division and strife are the very opposite of fellowship. Sadly, today, those who profess the Name of Christ are divided into a multitude of sects, but the existence of an assembly in a locality is a protest against that situation.

The Corinthians were slow to separate completely from the idolatry that they had been involved in before they were saved. The apostle reminds them, therefore, of three sorts of fellowship in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, all expressed by the act of eating and drinking.

1. There was the fellowship known by the Israelite as he brought his offering to the altar, and then feasted upon his portion of the sacrifice, and thus had a share in the things that God had ordained. This would rebuke the Corinthians for their divisions, for the altar in Israel was the focal point of their religious life, just as the Lord Jesus, and no other person or thing, was the centre of Christian life.

2. There was the fellowship known by the idol-worshipper, as he brought his gift to the pagan temple. His fellowship was with the demon forces behind the idol, and he expressed this fellowship by sharing the food which he had offered to the idol. This would rebuke the Corinthians for their connections with idolatry, as the apostle exposed the very heart of idol-worship as being homage to demons.

3. Then there was the fellowship of the Christian assembly. As they drank the cup of wine of the Lord’s Supper, they thereby declared their participation in all the blessing that His shed blood had procured, for the cup is described as the cup of blessing. As they all took and broke the one loaf, they signified that they were sharing in common with one another, as a united company, all the blessings Christ’s blood had secured. The one loaf of which they all partook, was symbolic of their unity as the local representation of the body of Christ.

It is illogical for those who drink of the cup at the Lord’s Supper, and thus signify their involvement in all that the blood of Christ secures, to live the rest of the week in practical denial of this by sharing in worldly things. It is likewise illogical for those who break bread in an assembly, and thereby signify their wholehearted involvement in the things of the assembly, to have fellowship in non-assembly, and therefore non-Scriptural associations, however noble their cause and well-meaning their members.

So the believers in a Scriptural assembly have the immense privilege of sharing with God’s Son the things that can be associated with his name in all its dignity. As they come together to remember the Lord Jesus, they also signify their common delight in the blessings His blood has secured, and their oneness with one another. They pledge themselves by these acts to separate from that which gives the worldling pleasure, and all associations which are of man’s devising.

It may be thought that it is not possible today to practise the things that are commanded us by the apostle in 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. This is not the case, however, for “God is faithful”. He who calls into assembly fellowship is faithful to those thus called. He will not desert them or let them down, but will always provide the spiritual resources necessary to continue steadfastly in Divine things. The only question is whether those who are thus called will be faithful to Him in return, as they respond to the God who in grace gives them the immense privilege of involvement with the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 10 TO 16

1:10 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.

1:11 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.

1:12 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.

1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

1:15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

(c) Verse 10   Exhortation to unity.

1:10 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 judgement.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ- the apostle bases his appeal for unity on the full name of the Lord Jesus. He is “our” Lord Jesus Christ, the common possession of all believers, apostles included. He is not for the few to monopolise, but for all to recognise. He is “Lord”, so we all need to bow to His authority, as expressed in the Scriptures. He is “Jesus”, the man who lived, died, and rose again for us, so that our affections might be towards Him as we realise how indebted we are to Him. He is “Christ”, the man approved of God, and as such should be our role-model in all things. There is no stronger appeal than one based on the full name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

That ye all speak the same thing- Paul will soon quote what they were saying, and they were expressing totally different and opposing things, for one was saying “I of Paul”, and another “I of Apollos” and so on. These words were expressions of disunity and party-spirit.

And that there be no divisions among you- note the “and”, for it is not “speak…but”. In other words, absence of division and speaking the same thing are both required, for a person may conform by saying orthodox things, but there may still be party-spirit in the heart.

But that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement- this is the ideal situation Paul is setting before the Corinthians. What is said and done is governed by what we think and decide. The apostle is getting to the heart of the problem here, which was the way the Corinthian believers were thinking. This is why he has much to say in these early chapters about the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God. Only by embracing the wisdom which is of God can unity be achieved. That wisdom is found in the inspired writings of the Bible, and is the standard by which all things are to judged.

(d) Verses 11-16   Exposure of disunity.

1:11 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.

For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe- there are two matters that are brought out side by side in Leviticus 19. Verse 16 reads, “Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy brother: I am the Lord”. Here is an injunction against spreading gossip amongst the Lord’s people. Whilst Christians are not under the law as a means to gain righteousness, nevertheless the righteous requirements of the law are binding upon them as Romans 8:4 indicates. Leviticus 19:17 reads, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him”. In other words, out of a spirit of love and concern, sometimes a believer needs to rebuke another believer, so that the wrong he is guilty of may be put right. And this is how the household of Chloe were acting. If they had been spreading gossip the apostle would have rebuked them. As it was, they were bringing the Corinthian situation before the apostle as the best one to deal with it.

That there are contentions among you- the Corinthian believers were showing a grave lack of love towards one another, and this had developed into open conflict and dispute. Such a situation was dishonouring to the name of the Lord Jesus, and needed to be dealt with quickly, and this the apostle seeks to do.

1:12 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.

Now this I say- the apostle has listened to the report form the household of Chloe, and has satisfied himself that it is true. He now relates the situation at Corinth in his own words, so there might be no doubt as to the seriousness of the problem.

That every one of you saith- the attitude that needs to be dealt with is so general that all of them can be said to be involved.

I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ-perhaps the converts of Paul would try to make him into a party-leader in gratitude for his work amongst them; perhaps some would be impressed with the eloquence of Apollos, (Acts 18:24), and would favour him; others would be impressed by the energy and vigour of Cephas, (Peter), and would especially favour him, not only for that reason, but also because he had been with the Lord on earth as Paul and Apollos had not; others were claiming a special relationship with Christ, and took the super-spiritual position of claiming to be “The Christ-party”. All such divisions are directly contrary to the spirit of Christianity. The Corinthians had been called into the fellowship of God’s Son, not the fellowship of Paul and the others.

1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Is Christ divided? This is the first of three searching questions, which, when answered correctly, will go a long way adjust the attitude of the Corinthian believers.  The three teachers mentioned in verse 12 each had their special ministry. Paul would emphasise the crucifixion of Christ and His subsequent ascent to heavenly glory. Apollos was versed in the Old Testament, as we see from Acts 18:24-28, and would show how Christ was the fulfilment of the prophecies of old time. Peter had been with the Lord on earth, and could testify first-hand of His ministry. Some believers would be attracted to Paul’s emphasis; some to Apollos’; some to Peter’s, and the temptation would be to only listen to a favourite theme, and hence gather around the one who expounded it. The fact is all the truth of God is for all the people of God, and Paul, Apollos and Peter would not have condoned such behaviour on the part of the Corinthians. Christ is not to be divided into “Fulfiller of prophecy”, “Example on Earth”, and “Crucified and Glorified One”. He is one whole Christ, and we need to be taken up with every aspect of His person.

Was Paul crucified for you? The answer to this question is staggeringly simple; how could the Corinthians have missed this point? Notice that Paul does not bring Apollos or Cephas into the argument. He is content to use himself as an argument, debasing himself in favour of Christ. He will use Apollos with himself in his argument in 4:6, but not here. By His crucifixion the Lord Jesus has forever secured the heart’s affections of His people; to adopt a name other than His is ingratitude indeed.

Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?When they were baptised, the Corinthians were baptised into Jesus Christ, Romans 6:3, committing themselves to a life of loyalty and devotion to Him alone. Their current position was a denial of this.

1:14,15 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

Paul here indicates his complete disinterest in forming a party under his name. John the Baptist had been sent to baptise, and those who received his preaching were known as John’s disciples. When Paul met some of these at Ephesus, he was able to tell them of the Lord Jesus, and they were then baptised in the name of Christ Jesus, Acts 19:5.

Perhaps he personally baptised Crispus because he had been the chief ruler of the synagogue in Corinth, and the other believers might be slow to be convinced of his genuineness. To foster unity the apostle may have personally done the baptising to show his confidence in the genuineness of Crispus’ conversion.

1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptised any other.

It is clear from the wording here that the apostle is genuinely struggling to remember who, if any, he baptised at Corinth. The apostle was engaged in “labours more abundant”, 2 Corinthians 11:23, and would have no time to write a daily journal. He describes the household of Stephanas as the “firstfruits of Achaia”, 16:15, (Corinth being the capital of that district), so perhaps they were the first ones baptised, and who subsequently did the baptising of other converts.

The remainder of the chapter shows how that the disunity of the Corinthian assembly was the direct result of embracing the thought-forms and opinions of the world. As a result, they began to act like the men of the world, who assembled themselves as parties around the philosopher of their choice.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 17 TO 20

1:17 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.

1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

1:20 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?

(e) Verses 17,18 The wisdom of words is damaging.

1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

For Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel- this is not to say that the apostle was careless about baptising converts, for it is clear that he was not. We read that when he preached in Corinth, “many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptised”, Acts 18:8. He wrote to the Romans explaining the doctrine of baptism, Romans 6; he wrote to the Galatians that when they were baptised they had put on Christ, Galatians 3:27; and he showed the Colossians that baptism had taken them out from the sphere where philosophy was relevant, and brought them into association with a risen Christ, Colossians 2:12. Baptism is the practical setting forth of the truth of the gospel, so the two cannot be at variance. What the apostle means is that he not only avoided baptising people himself, for the reason we have noted in verses 14-16, but his commission from the Lord was to evangelise, and leave the baptism of the converts to others. A believer does not have to have special gift to baptise, so any genuine brother may baptise a new convert.

Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect- by his upbringing and education the apostle would have been well-able to speak eloquently, and use the reasoning techniques of the philosophers. He refused to do this, however, since it would rob the gospel of its power, which lay in its appeal for faith, not mental ability. How serious a matter it is to cancel out the work of the cross! Yet it is so easily done if the preaching of the gospel is adulterated by man’s thinking in some way. It is so tempting, especially in these days when response to the gospel, at least in the Western World, is rare, to try to present a message which in some way appeals to the natural man. This destroys the gospel, and we should return to faith in the means God has chosen, and not adopt ideas of our own. Israel were forbidden to lift up a cutting tool on the stones they were intending to make into an altar. If they did so, they would pollute the altar, said God, Exodus 20:25,26. So we, if we lift up the tool of man upon the altar-work of Calvary, we have in practice polluted it, and God cannot use what we do for His glory.

1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness- the apostle now gives two reasons why the wisdom of the wise, when used to preach the gospel, is damaging. First, because the preaching of the cross is foolishness to men, so that shows it is completely different to anything they have thought up. While they hold on to their way of thinking they are perishing, so it is counter-productive to mix a way of thinking that lets a man perish, with a way of thinking that saves him. No mere man has yet devised a system of thought which removes the effects of the fall, and brings into true blessing.

But unto us which are saved it is the power of God- this is the second reason why it is foolish to use the wisdom of the world to preach the gospel by. It will not be the channel of God’s power, but will only pander to the pride of man, for he will think he has acquired some merit by understanding it. Just as those who dismiss the gospel as foolishness are perishing, so those who receive the gospel are being saved. The verbs “perish” and “are saved” are in the same tense, and indicate a current situation. The philosophies of men bring them into increasing ruin and loss of well-being, whilst the reverse is the case for the believer- he is constantly saved and preserved by the truth of the gospel.

(f) Verses 19,20 The wisdom of the wise of this world is destroyed by God.

1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

For it is written- there follows a quotation from Isaiah 29:14. The previous verse to the one quoted here was used by the Lord Jesus to show the hypocrisy of the leaders of the nation of Israel, Matthew 15:7-9, so we know that the Jewish rulers are in view.

Wisdom may be defined as “Insight into the true nature of things”. The philosophers of the world were earnestly seeking after this insight, but had never succeeded in finding it. God steps in with the disclosure of His wisdom, but not before He has shown that the wisdom of the world is, in effect, foolishness.

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent- the wise men of Israel, the chief priests, scribes, and elders of the people, are warned by Isaiah that God will destroy their supposed wisdom, the traditions which they had accumulated over many centuries, and by which they had made the doctrines of men more important than the word of God. He would also bring to nothing, or show to be useless, the understanding which they claimed to have of God and His ways. The way this would happen is that they, the princes of this world, would crucify the Lord of glory because they were ignorant about Him, 1 Corinthians 2:7.

1:20 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?

God has effectively destroyed the wisdom of this world by the cross, and the apostle adapts another passage from Isaiah to point this out. God said through Isaiah, “Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? Where is the receiver? Where is he that counted the towers? Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand”, Isaiah 33:18,19. Verse 19 shows that it is foreign armies that are in view, yet God’s promise to His people was that they would not see them as invaders of the land, and verse 18 assures them that they would be calm in the face of terror. As a result, God can ask in triumph the three questions Isaiah lists. Where is the scribe, plotting the line of attack on his map, and writing out the plan of battle? Where is the receiver, or weigher, ready to assess the spoils of victory and weigh them out to those deserving of reward after the battle? Where is the scout who secretly entered the land to assess the vulnerable points and the strong points, counting the watchtowers to see how well-guarded the land was? Such were Isaiah’s words. Paul adapts them, (with the authority of the same inspiring Spirit who guided Isaiah to write), and asks:

Where is the wise?- the man who plans his life according to man’s wisdom, and seeks to win life’s battles thereby?

Where is the scribe?- the one ready to record the triumphs of a life lived according to man’s thinking?

Where is the disputer of this world?- who like the counter of towers, was confident that he was able to succeed against all opposing forces? They are nowhere to be seen, not only because a life lived according to worldly wisdom is the life of a person who is perishing, but also because by the cross God has shown the wise of this world to be weak and ineffective.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 21 TO 31

1:21 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.

1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

1:27 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;

1:28 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:

1:29 That no flesh should glory in His presence.

1:30 But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

(g) Verses 21-29 The wisdom of God has been demonstrated.

(i) Verse 21(a) In the history of Old Testament times.

(ii) Verses 21(b) to 25 In the Calvary-work of Christ.

(iii) Verses 26 to 29 In the testimony of believers.

1:21 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.

(i) The wisdom of God has been demonstrated in the history of Old Testament times.

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God- the nations were allowed to go their own ways, to show to them that by their own religious thought they could not attain to the knowledge of God. As Paul said to the philosophers of Athens, “God…hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us”, Acts 17:26,27. It was an exhibition of the wisdom of God that this happened, so that man might realise the bankruptcy of his thinking, and seek the Lord through the nation of Israel, set by God in the midst of the earth to preserve the knowledge of Himself. That they did not do this is shown by the inscription Paul based his address on, “To the Unknown God”. They had a vague notion that there was another God somewhere, and lest they offend Him, they adopted that inscription as an insurance policy. Paul was able to declare unto them the God they so feebly knew. It is vain for man to continue his search for God apart from the revelation God has given of Himself in the Person of His Son, which revelation is full and final.

(ii) The wisdom of God has been demonstrated in the Calvary-work of Christ.

It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe- having given many centuries of opportunity to men to find Him by themselves, God now presents to men by the preaching of the gospel the way to find true wisdom. This method does not appeal to the wise of this world, so they label it foolishness. Yet despite what men say about the gospel, they cannot dispute that it rescues men from a foolish life-style, and imparts to them knowledge that they could not have gained in the schools of men. This wisdom is not available only to those who are intellectually inclined, because it does not depend for its reception on intelligence, but faith.

That is not to say it is not reasonable and logical to believe the gospel, for it is, but is does mean that the world-view of men must be abandoned, and the thoughts presented in the gospel must be embraced by faith.

Nor does it mean that those who preach the gospel should be haphazard in their speaking, and not present truths in the most understandable way possible, by God’s enabling. The last chapter of Ecclesiastes gives us the plan of action of the writer of the book. “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; Yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was upright, even words of truth”, Ecclesiastes 12:9,10.

In verse 18 believers are saved constantly, whereas here they are saved decisively. There is no discrepancy, however, for there is initial salvation from sin and its consequences, which salvation is once and for all, with no recall of that salvation by God, and without help from the wisdom of the wise of this world either. There is also ongoing salvation from the pitfalls of the pilgrim pathway, which in the context here mean the dangers presented by the world’s way of thinking and acting.

1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

For the Jews require a sign- even though Christ has died and risen again, they were still asking for evidence that He was the Messiah. After three and a half years of sign-miracles, they had still asked the Lord Jesus for a sign from heaven. His response was, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”, Matthew 12:39,40. The nation of Israel had ample opportunity to test the claims of those who witnessed to the resurrection of Christ; but their minds were hardened, and biased against the truth.

And the Greeks seek after wisdom- the Greek world constantly sought insight into the true nature of things. They were waiting for the conclusive argument, the line of reasoning that would at last enlighten them. Their quest in Old Testament times was often sincere, but now that Christ crucified is preached they have no excuse for continuing the search for wisdom on their own.

1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

But we preach Christ crucified- undeterred by the demands of men of intellect, and unembarrassed by the subject he made known, Paul asserts that he and his fellow evangelists preached. They did not debate, rationalise, or argue, but simply made an announcement of facts. He also asserts that they preached Christ, or the Messiah. Despite knowing what the consensus in Israel about Jesus of Nazareth’s claim to Messiahship was, Paul insisted on preaching Him. He further states that in their preaching they emphasised that this Christ was the one who was crucified, and will always be known for that. They did not preach Jesus the teacher, Jesus the miracle worker, Jesus the fine example, although He was all these things. Paul was convinced that the only sort of Christ that God would have preached is Christ crucified.

Unto the Jews a stumbling-block- the idea that a man crucified in shame and disgrace between two thieves on a Roman cross, was worthy to be welcomed as their Messiah, was not something that Jews generally were prepared to accept. But then the majority of Jews were not saved, for they were clinging to the wisdom of the elders, and refusing the wisdom of God.

As we have said, wisdom is insight into the true nature of things. At the cross the character of God, who is the fount of all wisdom, was made known fully. Do we wish to know righteousness, then we see the way God dealt with sin at Calvary. Or love, then we see His love fully expressed in that He did not spare His own Son the horrors of that experience. Or justice, where He poured out His anger against sin upon His own Son. “God is light” and “God is love”, and every ray of glory that shines in His person, as summed up in those two expressions, is seen in full display at Calvary.

And unto the Greeks foolishness- the Greeks were looking for the Ideal Man, and to them such a man would not succumb, but would succeed. People crucified on a cross had succumbed, in their view. They looked for a man who was a victor, not a victim. Crucified people had not been victorious, but they had become victims of circumstance. To them, in a word, crucifixion was a tragedy, not a triumph, and crucified people had no claim on their attention.

Despite this prevailing attitude of both Jew and Gentile, Paul and his fellow-workers persisted in preaching Christ crucified, and there is no reason why their present-day counterparts should not do the same.

1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

But unto them which are called- these are they who respond in faith to the message preached. It is by the gospel that God calls men. He does not invite them to participate in a discussion, but to accept His Son as Saviour and Lord.

Both Jews and Greeks- despite the fact that the majority of Jew and Gentile reject the gospel, it is still undeniably true that many have believed and been saved. Despite their different attitudes before, due to culture and background, they have come the same way, and turned to God because of the work of His Son. God has only one gospel.

Christ the power of God- the power of God to destroy the wisdom of the wise, verses 19 and 20, and to save those who believe, verse 18, is vested in Christ, the one men crucified.

1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men- the word “because” tells us that we are now to be given reasons for the statement that Christ is the wisdom and power of God as far as those who are called are concerned. We could look at the statements in this verse in two ways. Either the apostle is exaggerating for the sake of effect, and is showing that even if there were such things as foolishness and weakness with God, then, because He is God, they would be much more wise and powerful than the wisdom and power of men. Or, alternatively, when he writes of the foolishness of God, He is referring to the gospel which men call foolish, because it proclaims salvation through a crucified man. This “foolish” gospel is indeed wiser than men, for it saves, whereas those who believe the wisdom of the wise of this world are perishing.

And the weakness of God is stronger than men- the proclamation of a crucified man as Saviour is nonsense to the unbeliever. In the language of the onlookers at Calvary, “He saved others, Himself He cannot save”, Matthew 27:41. It was the chief priests, scribes, and elders who mocked the Saviour thus; in other words, the religious princes of this world, who crucified the Lord of Glory because they were ignorant of Divine wisdom, 1 Corinthians 2:7.

Of course it goes without saying that there are no such things as foolishness and weakness with God in actual fact, and the apostle would never suggest there are. God is Almighty, and All-wise.

(iii) The wisdom of God has been demonstrated in the testimony of believers.

1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

For ye see your calling, brethren- having thought of the history of the world, and the events at Calvary, the apostle now directs the thoughts of the Corinthians to their own situation. Their calling is their experience of the calling of God through the gospel.

How that not many wise men after the flesh- as Paul approached the city of Corinth God encouraged him with the thought that He had many people in that city, Acts 18:11. Yet here we read of not many. So the majority of the “many” that God had in His mind, were not the elite of the city, but the lower classes. God is no respecter of persons, so it is not that God did not offer the gospel to the upper classes so energetically as He did to the lower classes. It was simply that the latter were more responsive. The reason they were more responsive was that they had not embraced the thinking of the philosophers, and were more ready to believe the gospel as it came to them.

How that not many wise men after the flesh- these are they who had been educated in the philosophies of men, and felt that they qualified for the title “wise”. Paul discounts this, however, for they are only wise after the flesh, that is, wise as men think and speak, not wise according to God.

Not many mighty- men of influence in some way, whether politically, financially, or religiously. Because of their education, these too would embrace the wisdom of the world. Thinking themselves to be powerful and wise, they saw no need for Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Not many noble, are called- these would be the well-bred, high-born classes, who had the “benefit” of the accumulated wisdom handed down from their ancestors. These were too self-sufficient and grand to follow the despised Nazarene, especially since His life ended with crucifixion.

These are described as those not called, but not because the gospel was not for them, but because they judged that they were not for the gospel. No fault attaches to God, who desires that all men be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4.

1:27 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;

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise- the choice of God involves the response of men to the gospel, as well as His predestining counsels. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 reads, “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth“. If by “chosen the foolish things” Paul meant “chosen only the foolish things”, then we might be justified in thinking simply of God’s eternal purpose electing only foolish people. But it is evident that some of the wise in this world have been converted to God. Paul himself is an example. So it is not an absolute statement of intention only to call foolish people, but a statement that takes account of the situation as it is. God has chosen foolish people, so that His own wisdom may be glorified, and the ineffectiveness of this world’s wisdom might become more apparent. In this way He confounds or embarrasses the wise, for their inability to live a saved life becomes all the more evident as it is contrasted with the life of those God has saved.

And God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty- those who had no influence on affairs in Corinth or the wider world, were ready to accept the truth of the gospel. Those who were influential were too proud to follow the despised Nazarene. Whatever their human power and influence, however, they had no power to live a life pleasing to God, whereas those of little account in the world were able to do this.

1:28 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:

And base things of the world- they were base, of low-birth, possessing none of the advantages of nobility, and having all the disadvantages of being low-born.

And things which are despised, hath God chosen- because they were uneducated and poor, they would be looked down upon by the upper classes of society.

And things which are not, to bring to nought things that are-of course Paul does not mean these people did not exist, but rather that they might just as well not have existed as far as the elite were concerned. It is such people that God uses to reduce those who seem to be big and powerful to their proper level.

1:29 That no flesh should glory in His presence.

That no flesh should glory in His presence- God is working for His own glory, and He knows that the wise and powerful of this world will find it difficult to leave their attitudes behind them when they get saved. This is why God delights to save the nobodies of this world, so that His glory might be displayed in that sinners of the lowest sort are in His presence for all eternity.

(f) Verses 30-31 The wisdom of God directs all the glory to Himself.

1:30 But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

But of Him- the Corinthian believers were what they were solely because of God’s working. They were the result of God putting forth His power through the preaching of the cross. There was nothing out of themselves or other men that had brought them to their current position.

Are ye- before they were nothing and nobody, now they are something and somebody. How that can be said is told us in the next words.

In Christ Jesus- He is not only the crucified man, but also the risen, ascended and glorified man. As such He is able to bring to the highest place of honour in association with Himself. Paul explains to the Ephesians that believers are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:6. God has lifted beggars from the dunghill, and set them among princes, 1 Samuel 2:8. The wise of this world were not prepared to go as far as the cross, and ally themselves to the crucified Christ. They thereby forfeit the right to have association with Him in His highest glory.

Who of God is made unto us wisdom- the order of words in the original is “who was made to us wisdom from God”. The wisdom that comes from God is made good to us by Christ Jesus. Only through Him and His death can we know God, and have insight into the true nature of things. The world may grope after God in the dark, but they do so because they have rejected the light that Christ brings.

And righteousness- because we now know God, we know also how to live a life that is in harmony with His character. We need wisdom for that, and this comes from Christ. Paul will later write that Christ was made sin for us, so that we might be made, or become in practice, the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21. The life of the believer should be marked by practical righteousness, the expression of the righteous nature imparted by God.

And sanctification- the apostle has already described the Corinthian believers as saints by divine calling, verse 2, and this repeats that thought. In the midst of the squalid conditions prevailing in Corinth, the believers there were able to maintain a separate lifestyle, in the measure in which they availed themselves of Divine wisdom in Christ.

And redemption- not only were they able to live righteous and holy lives, but they were also able to enjoy the liberty that Christ’s death brings to the believer. As the Lord Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”, John 8:36. He also said, “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”, John 8:32. So not only are believers righteous and holy by God’s reckoning, they are redeemed also. But each of these three things is to be worked out in practice. It is the truth that makes free, the truth of God’s word, the perfect wisdom. If we direct our lives by its instruction, we shall be made free from all that brings into bondage, whatever form that bondage takes.

1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord- the apostle closes this section of his argument with a quotation from the prophet Jeremiah. The context reads as follows- “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgement, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord”, Jeremiah 9:23,24. Clearly the apostle has had this passage in the back of his mind as he penned verses 26-29, for the same classes of men he speaks of, Jeremiah speaks of too. A reading of the early verses of Jeremiah 9 will show that the people of Israel in Jeremiah’s day were no different to the men of Corinth in Paul’s day. They were alike guilty of treachery, lies, and immorality. The answer to this problem was not the wise man glorying in his supposed wisdom, and his ability to remedy the situation; nor the mighty man glorying in his might, thinking that by his influence he could effect change; nor the rich man priding himself on his success, and seeking to pump money into the situation to make it better. None of these solutions is the right one. Only by glorying in the Lord, and trusting in His wisdom, His power, and His rich grace, can the situation be remedied. Notice that in Jeremiah 9 the Lord speaks of Himself as to His activity, for He exercises loving kindness, judgement, and righteousness; so should those who believe be exercised. And in the measure in which the Corinthians, and ourselves, imitate God’s ways, we shall live lives that are glorifying to the Lord, for they will be a reflection of His character.