I Corinthians 1




Corinth, an ancient and celebrated city of Greece, on the Isthmus of Corinth, and about

40 miles west of Athens.  In consequence of its geographical position it formed the most

direct communication between the Ionian and Aegean seas.  A remarkable feature was

the Acrocorinthus, a vast citadel of rock, which rises abruptly to the height of 2000 feet

above sea level, and the summit of which is so extensive that it once contained a whole

town.  The situation of Corinth, and the possession of its eastern and western harbors,

Cenchrae and Lechaeum, are the secrets of its history.  Corinth was a place of great

mental and intellectual activity, as well as commercial and manufacturing enterprise.

Its wealth was so celebrated to be proverbial; so were the vice and  profligacy of its

inhabitants.  The worship of Venus here was attended with shameful licentiousness.

Paul preached here, Acts 18:11, and founded a church, to which the Epistles to the

Corinthians are addressed.


This first epistle was written by Paul towards the close of his nearly three years stay

at Ephesus, (Acts 19:10; 20:31, which we learn from ch. 16:8, and probably

terminated with the Pentecost of A.D. 57  or 58.  The bearers were probably

Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus.  It appears to have been called forth by the

information the apostles had received of dissension in the Corinthian Church,

which thus may be explained:  The Corinthian Church was planted by the apostle

himself, (ch. 3:6), in his second missionary journey.  (Acts 18:1)  Paul abode in the

city a year and a half.  (ibid. v. 11) A short time after the apostle had left the city the

eloquent Jew of Alexandria, Apollos, went to Corinth (Acts 19:1), and gained many

followers, dividing the church into two parties, the followers of Paul and the followers

of Apollos.  Later on Judaizing teachers from Jerusalem preached the gospel in a

spirit of direct antagonism to Paul personally.  To this third party we may perhaps

add a fourth, that, under the name of the “followers of Christ,” (ch. 2:12) sought

at first to separate themselves from the factious adherence to particular teachers,

but eventually were driven by antagonism into positions equally sectarian and inimical

to the unity of the church.  At the momentous period, before parties had become

consolidated and had distinctly withdrawn from communion with one another, the

apostle writes; and in the onset of the epistle, chapters 1-4, we have his noble and

impassioned protest against this fourfold rending of the robe of Christ.  (The above

two paragraphs come from A Dictionary of the Bible by William Smith, L.L.D).


The Apostle Paul loved the Corinthian Church with intense affection, though he never

had to deal with any church so inflated and so immoral, so indifferent to his sufferings,

so contemptuous towards his teaching, or so tolerant of his opposition.



                                                The Greeting (vs. 1-3)


An opening salutation is found in all the Epistles of Paul, and in every Epistle of

the New Testament except the Epistle to the Hebrews and the first Epistle of St.

John, both of which were more in the nature of treatises than letters.


1 “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God,

and Sosthenes our brother,”  Paul.  After the beginning of the first missionary

journey (A.D. 45) he seems to have finally abandoned his Hebrew name of Saul.

Called.  The word “called” is absent from A, D, E, and other manuscripts, but may

have been omitted as superfluous. It occurs in the greeting of Romans 1:1, but not

in any other Epistle. The words might also be rendered “a called or chosen apostle.”

To be an apostle. He uses this title in every letter except the private one to Philemon,

the peculiarly friendly and informal one to the Philippians, and the two to the

Thessalonians, which were written before the Judaizers had challenged his claim

to this title in its more special sense. The Epistle to the Romans is the first in which

he calls himself “a slave of Jesus Christ” (compare Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1;

James 1:1; II Peter 1:1; Jude 1). It was necessary for him to assert his right to

the apostolate in the highest sense of the word, as one who had received

from Christ Himself an authority equal to that of the twelve (see ch. 9:1-5; 15:9;

II Corinthians 11:5; 12:11-12; Galatians 1:1-19, etc.).  Of Jesus Christ.  In

the Gospels the word “Christ” is all but invariably the Christ,” the Anointed,

the Messiah. It is the designation of the office of Jesus as the promised Deliverer.

We trace in the New Testament the gradual transition of the word from a title into

a proper name. In the two names together our Lord is represented as “the Saviour,”

and the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King, first of the chosen people and then

of ALL MANKIND!Through the will of God.  (compare II Corinthians;

Ephesians; Colossians; II Timothy 1:1). This special call to the apostleship is

emphatically expanded in Galatians 1:1. The vindication of the Divine and

independent claim was essential to St. Paul’s work. It was not due to any personal

considerations, but to the necessity of proving that no human authority could be

quoted to overthrow the gospel which was peculiarly “his gospel” (see Galatians

1:11; Ephesians 3:8), of which one main feature was the freedom of the Gentiles

from the yoke of Judaic bondage.  And Sosthenes.  The association of one or more

brethren with himself in the greeting of his letters is peculiar to St. Paul. Silas and

Timothy are associated with him in I and II Thessalonians; and Timothy,

though so much his junior, in II Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, and

Philemon; doubtless he would have been associated with St. Paul in this

Epistle had he not been absent (ch. 4:17; 16:10). The practice arose partly

from St. Paul’s exquisite courtesy and consideration towards his companions,

partly from his shrinking from mere personal prominence. It is owing to the

same reasons that in the earlier Epistles he constantly uses “we” for “I,” and

sometimes when he can only be speaking of himself (I Thessalonians 2:18).

But even in the Epistles to the Thessalonians he sometimes relapses from “we”

into “I” (ibid. v. 5).  Our brother.  Literally, the brother; i.e. one of “the

brethren” (compare II Corinthians 1:1). Of Sosthenes nothing whatever is

known. He may possibly be the amanuensis whom St. Paul employed for

this letter. Later tradition, which in such matters is perfectly valueless,

spoke of him as” one of the seventy disciples, and Bishop of Colophon

(Eusebius, ‘Hist. Eccl.,’ 1:12). There is a Jewish Sosthenes, a ruler of the

synagogue, in Acts 18:17; but it is only a vague conjecture that he may

have been subsequently converted, and may have joined St. Paul at

Ephesus. It is obvious that the persons named in the greetings of the

Epistles were not in any way supposed to be responsible for their contents,

for St. Paul begins with “I” in v. 4. Brother. At this time there was no

recognized title for Christians. In the Acts they are vaguely spoken of as

“those of this way.” Among themselves they were known as “the saints,”

“the faithful,” “the elect.” The name “Christians” was originally a nickname

devised by the Antiochenes. In the New Testament it only occurs as a

designation used by enemies (Acts 11:26; 26:28; I Peter. 4:16).


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” -  This form of address is used in I and II Thessalonians, I and

II Corinthians, and Galatians. In Paul's later Epistles, for some unknown reason, he

prefers the address "to the saints." These forms of address show the absence of any

fixed ecclesiastical government. He does not in this Epistle address any "bishops" or

"presbyters" whom he might regard as responsible for the growing disorders which

prevailed at Corinth, but he appeals to the whole Church. The word ἐκκλησίᾳ -

ecclesia -  church - signifying those who were "called out of the world," and so

primarily applied to "the congregation of Israel" - came ultimately to mean

"a congregation." The only apostle who uses the word "synagogue" of the Christian

assemblies is James (James 2:2).  “of God” Not the Church of this or that party leader.

Some commentators give to these words an emphasis and importance which does

not seem to belong to them. “Which is at Corinth.” So in II Corinthians 1:2. In I

and II Thessalonians he prefers the form, "the Church of the Thessalonians."

“The Church at Corinth was an expression which involved the sharpest of 

contrasts. It brought into juxtaposition the holiest ideal of the new faith and

the vilest degradations of the old paganism. It was “a glad and great paradox”

(Bengel). The condition of society at Corinth, at once depraved and sophistical,

throws light on many parts of the Epistle. Cicero describes the city as “illustrious

alike for wantonness, luxuriousness,  and the study of philosophy.” – Even them

that are sanctified. The apostles could only write to Churches as being really

Churches, and to Christians as being true Christians. In all general addresses they

could only assume that the actual resembled the ideal. They never conceal the

immense chasm which separated the real condition of many members of their

Churches from the vocation which they professed. They knew also that it is

(as Calvin says) "a perilous temptation to refuse the name of Church to every

Church in which there is not perfect purity." Ideally even the Corinthian Christians

were redeemed by Christ's expiation, consecrated and sanctified by the work of

the Holy Spirit. They could only be addressed in accordance with their ostensible

position (see Hooker, 'Eccl. Pol.,' 3:1; 5:68). Our Prayer book is constructed on

the same principle. The harvest is still a harvest, though amongst the corn there

may be many tares. In Christ Jesus. The words, "in Christ," constitute what has

been happily called "the monogram of St. Paul." The life of the true Christian

is no longer his own. The Christ for him has become the Christ in him. His

natural life is merged into a higher spiritual life. Baptized into Christ, he has

become one with Christ   “to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus” –

The words, “in Christ,” constitute what has been happily called “the monogram

of Paul.” The life of the true Christian is no longer his own. The Christ for him has

become the Christ in him. His natural life is merged into a higher spiritual life.

Baptized into Christ, he has become one with Christ.“called to be saints” –

(On this Christian calling, see Ephesians 4:1, 4; II Thessalonians 1:11; II Timothy

1:9; Hebrews 3:1; II Peter 1:10). They are called to be united saints, not schismatic

partisans or members of antagonistic cliques. The description of what they were

ideally is the more emphatic because he feels how much they had fallen away -  

“with all that in every place” - Perhaps this may mean the same as II Corinthians 1:1,

"With all the saints that are in the whole of Achaia;" or the words may imply that St.

Paul's exhortations are applicable to all Christians, wherever they may be and (as is

expressed in the next clause) whatever may be their varying shades of individual

opinion. It was well in any case to remind the Corinthians that they formed but a

fraction of the Christian communities. Catholicity (all embracing), not provincialism,

makes the true Church of God.  Call upon the Name. The Greek verb is here in the

middle voice, not "who are called by the Name"(compare James 2:7; Amos 9:12,

Septuagint). It means, therefore, all who reverence the Name of Christ, all who

adore their one "Lord" in the fullness of his nature (see Joel 3:5; Acts 2:21;

Romans 10:14; II Timothy 2:22, etc.); in other words, "all who profess and

call themselves Christians" (compare Acts 25:11). Their Lord and ours. I connect

these words, not with "place," as in the Vulgate, In omni loco ipsorum et nostro

which, however it may be twisted, can give no good sense - but with "Jesus Christ."

It has been in all ages a fatal temptation of party Christians to claim a monopoly of

Christ for themselves and their own sects, as though they only taught the gospel,

and were the only Christians or the only "Evangelicals." But Christ cannot thus be

"parcelled into fragments" (see vs. 12-13), nor has any party a right to boast

exclusively, "I am of Christ." The addition, "and ours," could not be regarded

 as superfluous in writing to a Church of which one section wanted to assert an

exclusive right in Christ.


3 “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the

Lord Jesus Christ.”  Grace be unto you, and peace” - This is  Paul’s greeting

in all the Epistles except the pastoral Epistles, in which he beautifully adds the

word “mercy.”  It is a remarkable blending of the Greek and Jewish salutations.

The Greeks said Ξαίρειν Chairein from  χαίρω -  khah’ee-ro a primary verb;

to be cheerful, i.e. calmly happy or well-off; impersonal especially as salutation

(on meeting or parting), be well: — farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail,

joy (joyfully), rejoice -  and to them the word “grace” χάριςcharis - khar’-ece;

from  (χαίρω); graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete;

literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its

reflection in the life; including gratitude) – acceptable, benefit, favor, gift, grace

(-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy). involved the notions of joy

and brightness and prosperity. The calmer and more solemn greeting of the

East was, “Peace be to thee.” The Church unites both forms of greeting —

“grace,” the beginning of every blessing; and “peace,” εἰρήνηνeiraenaen;

probably from a primary verb ερωeiro - to join;  peace (literal or figurative);

by implication prosperity: — one, peace, quietness, rest, set at one again –

the end of all blessings; and into both she infuses a deeper meaning,

that of a “joy” which defied all tribulations, and a “the peace of God

which passeth all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) –  “from God our Father” –

God is the source of “every good gift and perfect gift” – (James 1:17) – “and

from the Lord Jesus Christ.” - In the first nine verses of this Epistle, the Name

“Jesus Christ” is repeated no less than nine times.  “Observe,” says St. Chrysostom,

“how he nails them down to the Name of Christ, not mentioning any man, either

apostle or teacher, but continually mentioning Him for whom they yearn, as men

preparing to awaken those who are drowsy after a debauch.  (He is the Desire of

all nations – Haggai 2:7 – CY – 2010)  For nowhere in any other Epistle is the

Name of Christ so continually introduced. By means of it he weaves together

almost his whole introduction.



                                    The Thanksgiving (vs. 4-9)


This thanksgiving of Paul is the natural overflow of a full heart and is a feature in

almost every Epistle of St. Paul, except the Epistle to the Galatians, in which he

plunges at once into severe reprobation.


4 “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which

is given you by Jesus Christ” –  I thank my God. It is probable, from papyrus

rolls in the British Museum, that the general form and outline of letters was more

or less conventional. In St. Paul, however, this thanksgiving is the natural overflow

of a full heart. It was no mere compliment or rhetorical artifice like the captatio

benevolentiae, or endeavouring to win the hearers by flattery, which we find in

most ancient speeches. My God (Romans 1:8). Always; that is, constantly; on all

occasions of special prayer. He could still thank God for them, though his letter

was written "with many tears" (II Corinthians 2:4). For the grace of God. The

grace (χάρις) of spiritual life showing itself in many special spiritual gifts

(χαρίσματα), such as "the gift of tongues." Which was given you. This is

one of St. Paul's "baptismal aorists." He always regards and speaks of the

life of the soul as summed up potentially in one supreme moment and crisis –

namely, the moment of conversion and baptism. The grace given once was

given for ever, and was continually manifested. In Christ Jesus.  Paul regarded

the life of the Christian as “hid with Christ in God,” and of Christ as being the

Christian’s life (see Romans 6:23; II Corinthians 4:10-11; Colossians 3:3-4;

II Timothy 1:1). 


5  “That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all

knowledge.”  In everything; i.e. of course, every gift which belongs specially

to the Christian life. In all utterance; i.e. in all "eloquence" (λόγῳ - logo - expression),

or perhaps "in all doctrine" (so Luther, Calvin, Meyer, etc.). The word for “utterance"

is ῥῆμα - rhema; λόγος - logos means "discourse" and "reason" (compare

II Corinthians 8:7). Knowledge.   From the word γνώσεωςgnoseos - knowledge:

— knowledge, science -  is derived the name Gnostic, which was applied to so many

forms of ancient heresy. There was danger to the Corinthian Christians in the

exaggerated estimate of what they took for gnosis, and many of them were tempted

to pride themselves on purely intellectual attainments, which were valueless for

the spiritual life.  St. Clement of Rome also, in writing to them ('Ep. ad Corinthians

1.') speaks of their "mature and established knowledge."


6 “Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:”  Even as; i.e.

"inasmuch as." The testimony of Christ. The testimony borne to Christ by the

apostle. The genitive is thus objective (about Christ), not subjective (" the

 testimony borne by Christ"). In reality, however, the meaning' would be the

same in either case, for if the apostles testified concerning Christ, so, too,

Christ spoke in the apostles. Was confirmed in you. This does not merely mean

"that the truth of Christianity was established among them," but that they were

living confirmations of the apostolic testimony. (I pray that you and I may

be living confirmations also!  CY – 2018)


7 “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our

Lord Jesus Christ:”  So that ye come behind in no gift” - The “gifts”

are here the χαρίσματι, - charismata - graces, such as powers of healing, etc.,

which were the result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The sequel shows

that they were rather outward than inward; they were splendid endowments

rather than spiritual fruits. Yet even these were not wholly wanting, as we see

from II Corinthians 8:7. The Greek may also mean “causing you

 not to be conscious of inferiority.” – “waiting for the coming of our

Lord Jesus Christ”Expecting His return, not fearing it – This was the constant

attitude of the early Christians (Romans 8:19-25; Philippians 3:20; I Thessalonians

1:10; Colossians 3:4; Titus 2:13).   Love for Christ’s manifestation was a

Christian characteristic – (II Timothy 4:8) The revelation.  Three words are

used to express the second advent:


  • ἀποκάλυψις - apokalypsisunveiling; manifestation; coming; appearing;

revelation (as here and in II Thessalonians 1:7;  I Peter 1:7, 13);

  • παρουσίαparousiacoming; presence (as in Matthew 24:3, 27, etc.;

I Thessalonians 2:19; James 5:7-8, etc.); and

  • ἐπιφανείαepiphaneiaadvent in the pastoral Epistles (I Timothy 6:14;

II Timothy 1:10;  4:1-8; Titus 2:13). St. Paul, however, only uses parousia

six times in I and II Thessalonians, and once in here, ch. 15:23.


All Christians alike expected the return of Christ very soon and possibly in their

lifetime  (ch. 15:51; I Thessalonians 1:9-10, etc.; James 5:8-9; I Peter 4:7;

I John 2:18). [and so do we – “Even so come Lord Jesus” – {Revelation 22:20}

- CY – 2010]  Their expectation was founded on the great eschatological discourse

of our Lord (Matthew 24:29-30, 34), and on His express promise that that generation

should not pass away before His predictions were fulfilled. They were fulfilled in

the fall of Jerusalem and the close of the old dispensation, though they await a still

more universal fulfilment.


8 “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless

in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Who; clearly Christ, though his Name is

again repeated in the next clause. Shall also confirm you.  This natural expression

of the apostle's yearning hope for them must not be over-pressed into any such

doctrine as "the indefectibility of grace." All honest and earnest students must resist

the tendency to strain the meaning of Scripture texts into endless logical inferences

which were never intended to be deduced from them.  Unto the end - namely, to the

end of “this age,” and to the coming of Christ (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 3:6,13; 6:11)

That ye may be blameless  - unreprovable; rather, unimpeached -  ἀνεγκλήτους -

 an-eng’-klay-tos - unreprovable;  which signifies that which cannot be called to

accountas in Colossians 1:22; 1 Timothy 3:18; Titus 1:6. It is not the word

rendered "blameless" (ἄμεμπτοι amemptoi ) in Philippianws 2:15 or in II Peter

3:14.  A Christian can only be “blameless,” not as being sinless, but as having

been forgiven, renewed, sanctified (I Corinthians 6:11; Romans 8:30) - in the day

of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Although neither of the following words are used

here, it is the  same as the ἀποκάλυψις of Christ mentioned above  and the word

παρουσία; from the presumed participle  of (πάρειμι - pareimi -  a being near, i.e.

advent) (often, return; specially of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked);

(by implication) physical aspect: coming, presence.  It is sometimes called simply

"the day" (compare I Corinthians 3:13; Acts 1:20; Joel 3:4; II Thessalonians 1:10;

Revelation 6:17).


9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His

Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”  God is faithful” - He will not leave His promises

unfulfilled or His work unfinished (Romans 8:28-30; I Corinthians 10:13; I

Thessalonians 5:24;  II Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23) – By whom – as the

moving cause and agent in your salvation.  Ye were called  - The calling was a

pledge of the final blessing unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” -

Union (κοινωνίαν - koinonia fellowship.  COMMUNION WITH CHRIST IS

THE SOLE MEANS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE -  (John 15:4; Galatians 2:20).

Through the Son we also have fellowship with the Father (I John 1:3).

The perfect sincerity of the apostle is observable in this thanksgiving. He speaks

of the Church in general in terms of gratitude and hopefulness, and dwells on

its rich spiritual endowments; but he has not a word of praise for any moral

advance such as that which he so lovingly recognized in the Thessalonians and




                                    Party Spirit at Corinth (vs. 10-17)


This subject is pursued in various forms to ch. 4:21.  Here Paul changes from

thanksgiving to reproof.


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.”  Now.   The particle implies the

transition from thanksgiving to reproof. Brethren. This very title involves an

appeal to them to aim at unity among themselves; and Paul, like James

(James 5:10), uses it to soften any austerity which might seem to exist in his

language (ch. 7:29; 10:1; 14:20, etc.). Through the Name of our Lord

Jesus Christ; that is, by the whole idea of Christ's being and office - the

strongest bond of union between true Christians (see the powerful appeal in

Ephesians 4:1-6). That ye all speak the same thing; that is, "that ye may all with

one mind and one mouth glorify God" (Romans 15:6). They were doing the

very reverse - each glorifying himself and his party (v. 12). And that there be no

divisions - (σχίσματα schismata - schisms); from σχίσμα -  schismasplit; schism;

division; literal or figurative: “schisms” used of bodies within the Church, not of

separatists from it (ch. 11:18). The word is only used in this special sense in this

Epistle. In Matthew 9:16 and Mark 2:21 –  σχίσμα means “a rent;” in John (John

7:43; 9:16), “a division of opinion.” There would be little or no harm in the

σχίσματα so far as they affected unessential points, if it was not their fatal tendency

to end in “contentions” – (v. 11) - [(ἔριδεςeridesstrifes] from ἔρις, eris;

of uncertain affinity; a quarrel, i.e. {by implication} wrangling. contention, debate,

strife, variance and also to end in “factions” αἱρέσειςhaireseisheresies; sects;

factions; ch.11:19).  Corinth was a place where such divisions would be likely to

spring up, partly from the disputatious vivacity and intellectual conceits of the

inhabitants, partly from the multitudes of strangers who constantly visited the port,

partly from the numerous diversities of previous training through which the various

sections of converts had passed. Perfected together; literally, repaired, reunited.

In the same mind and in the same judgment; that is, in what they think and believe

(νοῒ - noi - mind), and in what they assert and do (γνώμῃ - gnomae - opinion). The

exhortation, "be of one mind," in every sense of the word, was as necessary in the

ancient as in the modern Church (Romans 15:5; II Corinthians 13:11; Philippians

1:27; 2:2; I Peter 3:8).


The Greek word for heresy is αἱρέσεις - hah’ee-res-is; - a choosing, a choice – then

 that which is chosen, and hence an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which

is substituted for submission to the power of truth and leads to division, the formation

of sects and finally, APOSTASY FROM GOD!   (Think of the origins, influences and


United States of America’s CULTURAL DEMISE  (IT ALL BEGAN WITH A

 CHOICE – a la – HERESYCY -2009) Corinth was a place where such divisions

would be likely to spring up, partly from the disputatious vivacity and intellectual

conceits of the inhabitants, partly from the multitudes of strangers who constantly

visited the port, partly from the numerous diversities of previous training through

which the various sections of converts had passed.


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.” It hath been

signified unto me. He had heard these saddening rumors towards the close of

his stay in Ephesus. By them which are of the household of Chloe. The Greek

only has "by them of Chloe. Paul wisely and kindly mentions his authority for

these reports. Nothing is known of Chloe or her household. It has been conjectured

that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, Corinthians who were now with Paul at

Ephesus (I Corinthians 16:16), may have been Chloe's slaves or freedmen.

Contentions. These are the works of the flesh (II Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20;

I Timothy 6:4).  The condition of the Church was the same when St. Clement of

Rome wrote to them. He had still to complain of the "strange and alien and, for

the elect of God, detest able and unholy spirit of faction which a few rash and

self willed persons kindled to such a pitch of dementation" ('Ep. ad Corinthians 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.  In other words, "what I mean

is this." Their "contentions" are defined to be equivalent to "religious partisanships;

"antagonistic adoption of the names and views of special teachers. That every one

of you saith. - That party spirit ran so high that they were all listed on one side or

another. None of them were wise enough and spiritual minded enough to hold

aloof from parties altogether. They prided themselves on being “uncompromising”

and “party men.” Saith - in a self-assertive way (ch.3:21). (Compare the modern

contemporary movement and the traditional services – CY – 2010) – “I am of Paul”

Paul shows his indignation at their partisanship by first rebuking those who had

used his own name as a party watchword. He disliked Paulinism as much as any

faction. All the Corinthians would probably have been in this sense Paulinists but

for the visits of subsequent teachers. At present the Paul party consisted of those

who adhered to his views about Gentile freedom, and who liked the simple

spirituality of his teaching. St. Paul rose above the temptation of considering that

party spirit is excusable in our own partisans. He reproves factiousness even in

the party of freedom. And I of Apollos.  Apollos personally was absolutely loyal

and honorable, but his visit to Corinth had done mischief. His impassioned oratory,

his Alexandrian refinements, his allegorizing exegesis, the culture and polish of his

style, had charmed the fickle Corinthians. The Apollonians were the party of culture.

They had, as we see from later parts of the Epistle, exaggerated Paul’s views, as

expounded by Apollos, into extravagance. Puffed up with the conceit of knowledge,

they had fallen into moral inconsistency. The egotism of oratorical rivals, the

contemptuous tone towards weaker brethren, the sophistical  condonations of vice,

were probably due to them. Apollos, as we see by his noble refusal to visit Corinth

under present circumstances (ch. 16:12), was as indignant as Paul himself at the

perversion of his name into an engine of party warfare. (On Apollos, see

Acts 18:24-28; 19:1; Titus 3:13.) Nothing further is known respecting him, but he

is the almost undoubted author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which proves that he

was of the school of Paul, while at the same time he showed a splendid originality

in his way of arriving at the same conclusion as his teacher – “and I of Cephas” –

The use of the Aramaic name (I Corinthians 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Galatians 2:9), perhaps,

shows that these Petrinists (Peter) were Judaizers.  They personally disliked Paul,

and questioned his apostolical authority. Perhaps the extravagances of the “speaking

with tongues” arose in this party, who recalled the effects of the outpouring of the

Spirit after Peter’s great sermon on the day of Pentecost - “and I of Christ” –

We trace the origin of this party to one man in particular (II Corinthians 2:7), who

was, or professed to be, an adherent of James, and therefore one of the more rigid

Judaizers. He may have been one from the circle of Christ’s earthly relatives —

one of the Desposyni – a direct kinsman of Christ – (see I Corinthians 9:5), and,

like  James, may have had views resembling those of the Essenes and Ebionites. 

If so, he was probably the author of the questions about celibacy and marriage;

and perhaps he prided himself on having seen “Christ in the flesh.” This party

at any rate, like some modern sects, was not ashamed to degrade into a party

watchword even the sacred name of Christ, and to claim for a miserable clique

an exclusive interest in the Lord of the whole Church. It is the privilege of every

Christian to say, “Christianus sum (I am a Christian);” but if he says it in a haughty,

loveless, and exclusive spirit, he forfeits his own claim to the title. This exclusive

Christ party is, perhaps, specially alluded to in II Corinthians 10:7-11.


13 “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized

in the name of Paul?”  Is Christ divided? – Has Christ been parceled into fragments?

"Is there a Pauline, a Petrine, an Apollonian, a Christian Christ?" Whether you call

yourselves Liberals, or Intellectualists, or Catholics, or Bible Christians, your party

spirit is a sin, and all the worse a sin because it pranks itself out in the guise of

pure religious zeal. This is more forcible than to take the clause affirmatively:

“Christ has been parcelled into fragments." In either case we see “the tragic

result of party spirit."   Was Paul crucified for you?  Again he rebukes the

partisanship which attached itself to his own name. This showed a splendid

courage and honesty. The introduction of the question by the negative μὴ - mae

no - expresses astonished indignation: "Can you possibly make a watchword of

the name of a mere man, as though he had been crucified for you?" This outburst

of feeling is very important, as proving the immeasurable distance which, in Paul’s

own view, separated him from his Lord - “or were ye baptized in the name of

Paul?  It is also instructive to see how St. Paul at once denounces the spirit of party

without deigning to enter into the question as to which party of these wrangling

"theologians" was most or least in the right. He did not choose to pander to their

sectarian spirit by deciding between their various forms of aggressive orthodoxy.

Into the name (compare Matthew 28:19).





Divisions (v. 13)


The “contentions” in the Church at Corinth, the report of which had

reached Paul, and which he here rebukes, were probably not the

outgrowth of definite party divisions, but were individual differences as to

who among the great Christian leaders should receive superior honor.

They were individual strifes, however, that might develop into very serious

divisions — schisms (σχίσματα - see v. 10) that would utterly rend asunder the

fellowship of the Church. It must have been deeply painful to the apostles

that they should thus be set in rivalry with one another, as if they were

seeking the ends of their own vain ambition, and still more that their names

should be permitted in any way to obscure the glory of the Name of their

Divine Master. “Is Christ divided?” The question suggests:


·         THE ESSENTIAL UNITY OF CHRIST. Consider different aspects of

this unity. As it regards:


Ø      His own person. In Him we see the blending of the Divine and human

in one glorious personality, the balance and harmony of all conceivable forms

of moral excellence. No discord in His being, no flaw in His character, no

failure in His life; He stands before us in every light, on every side, a

complete, symmetrical, and perfect whole.


Ø      His redeeming purpose and the means by which He effects it. He comes

to deliver men from the power of evil, to turn them from their iniquities, to

restore them to fellowship with God. The end He seeks is THE SAME
  “There is no distinction; for all have sinned,” etc. (Romans

3:22-24).  And as all human distinctions are lost in the common need of

salvation, so in Christ the same possibility of good is placed WITHIN

THE REACH  OF ALL!  “As through one trespass the judgment came

unto all men,” etc. (Romans 5:18). There is but one gospel message, and

it is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”

(ibid. ch. 1:16)


Ø      The life with which He inspires those who receive Him. In whomsoever it

dwells this life is always one — one in its affections and energies, in the

laws of its development, in the fruit it bears, in the ends to which it leads.

The inspiration of a common spirit life is the grand uniting principle amid

endless individual diversities. “By one Spirit we are all baptized into one

body,” etc. (ch. 12:13).


Ø      His authority as the sole Head of the Church. There can be no divided

authority. In the very nature of things, Christ can own no rival. The body

can have but one living head, the source of informing, guiding, and

controlling power. Its own unity lies mainly in the recognition of this:

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” etc. (ch. 8:6; 12:5-6; Ephesians 4:5-6;



The divisions of the Church of Corinth were deprecated by the apostle as

an offence against the fundamental principles and laws of the Christian

fellowship. All such divisions have certain marked features of evil.


Ø      They exalt that which is subordinate and accidental at the expense of

the vital and supreme. The form of truth is placed above the spirit,

doctrine above life, the instrument above the power, appearances above

realities, the shadow above the substance — creeds, systems, men, above

Christ (ch. 3:4-5). Examine them closely, and you find that

all “contentions” in the Church mean this.


Ø      They engender mutual animosities which are destructive of the

fellowship of a common life. Here lies the heart and core of the evil. Mere

outward diversities are not so much to be dreaded. Schism is a thing of the

spirit. It lies not in the formal separations that conscience may dictate, but

in the fierce antagonisms that may unhappily, but not necessarily, grow out

of them. Sectarianism consists not in the frank outspoken assertion of

individual convictions, but in the bitterness and uncharitableness with

which one conscience may assert itself against all other consciences. So

that the very spirit of schism may inspire that passion for uniformity which

would suppress individual liberty of thought and speech and action. The

true schismatics are these who by their intolerance create divisions.

Whatever tends to check the flow of spiritual fellowship violates the law of

Christ. We do well carefully to watch against the estrangement of heart

that difference of religious opinion and ecclesiastical practice too often

generates, “giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of

peace (Ephesians 4:3).


Ø      They bring public dishonour on the Name of Christ. That Name is the

symbol of a Divine reconciliation — the reconciliation of man to man, as

well as man to God. But in this case it is made the cause of separations.

Christ came to bind men together in a true brotherhood; but thus He is

made a “divider.” “Where jealousy and faction are there is confusion and

every evil work” (James 3:16). And thus the very essential principle

and purpose of the Saviour’s mission is falsified, and occasion is given to

the enemy to blaspheme. Few things have a more disastrous effect in

discrediting the Christian cause than the bitterness of contending parties in

that Church which is “the pillar and ground of the truth.”  (I Timothy 3:15)


Ø      They squander and dissipate energies that ought rather to be devoted to

active service in the Lord’s kingdom. Think of the waste of spiritual force

these divisions involve! If half the enthusiasm mere partisanship has

engendered had been expended on some real substantial work for the good

of humanity and the glory of God, how blessed the results might have

been! In one sense, of course, all zeal for truth, however subordinate the

position of the particular truth may be, is for the good of humanity and the

glory of God; but to be contending for the maintenance of comparatively

trivial points of difference in violation of the spirit that ought to harmonize

all differences, and of the grand responsibilities of the Christian calling, is

to be guilty of “tithing the mint and the anise and the cummin, to the

neglect of the weightier matters of the Law.”  (Matthew 23:23)


·         THE CURE FOR THESE EVILS. There is but one cure — to keep

Christ in all the glory of His being and the supremacy of His claims

habitually before our minds, and to open our hearts freely to the inspiration

of His Spirit. This will raise us above the littleness and meanness of party

strife. A lofty object of contemplation and a high moral purpose must

needs have an elevating and ennobling influence on the whole man. It will

subdue within us all base affections, will rebuke our personal vanity, will

enlarge our sympathies, will chasten our lesser enthusiasms. We shall not

be in much danger of helping by our influence to violate the unity of the

great household of faith, when our souls are filled with the full orbed glory

of the undivided Christ. The expansive Spirit He gives will teach us to say,

“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”

            (Ephesians 6:24)


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

I thank God that I baptized none of you. St. Paul, in his characteristic manner,

"goes off at the word" baptize. He thanked God, not by way of any disparagement

to baptism, but because he had thus given no excuse to the undue exaltation of his

own name. Compare the practice of our Lord Himself, in leaving His disciples to

baptize – (John 4:2)  The apostles would not have approved the system of wholesale

baptisms of the heathen which has prevailed in some Romanist missions. Save Crispus.

The ruler of the synagogue (Acts 18:8). Doubtless there were some strong special

reasons why, in these instances, St. Paul departed from his general rule of not

personally baptizing his converts. And Gaius. Gaius of Corinth (Romans 16:23).

It was one of the commonest of names. There was another Gaius of Derbe

(Acts 20:4), and another known to St. John (III John 1:1).


15 “Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.”  I had baptized.

The better reading, followed by the Revised Version, is, Ye were baptized unto my

name; א, A, B, C


16 “And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not

whether I baptized any other.”  And I baptized also. This he recalls by an

afterthought being, perhaps, reminded of it by Stephanas himself. The household

of Stephanas. Stephanas and his house were the first converts in Achaia (ch.16:15).

When converts became more numerous, St. Paul ceased to baptize them personally

(compare Acts 10:48). I know not. The inspiration of the apostles involved none

of the mechanical infallibility ascribed to them by popular dogma, He forgot

whether he had baptized any one else or not, but this made no difference as

regards his main argument.  


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.”  For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel:

The primary function of the apostles was “to bear witness” (Mark 16:15;

Acts 1:8, etc.).  To preach the gospel. -  St. Paul again “goes off” at this word,

and dwells for eight verses on the character of his preaching.  Not with wisdom

of words.  Not, that is, in a philosophic and oratorical style. The simplicity of

the style and teaching of the apostles awoke the sneers of philosophers like

Celsus and Porphyry. The cross of Chris.  The central doctrine of Christianity,

the preaching of a crucified Redeemer.  Should be made of none effect.

The cross of Christ should be made void -  The rendering of the Authorized

Version is too strong; the cross cannot “be made of none effect.” The word

means “should be emptied” (compare Romans 4:14; here, ch. 9:15; II Corinthians

9:3; Philippians 2:7;); made void of its special and independent power. The words,

the cross of Christ,” form the emphatic end of the sentence in the Greek.



The World’s Greatest Blessing and the World’s Greatest Evil (v. 17)


“Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” Here we have :


  • The Greatest BLESSING in the World. “The cross of Christ.” By “the

            cross of Christ” the apostle did not mean, of course, the timber on which

            Christ was crucified, or any imitation of that in wood, brass, marble, gold,

            silver, or paint. He uses the word as a symbol, as we use the words

            crown,” “court,” “bench,” etc. He meant the eternal principles of which

            the cross of Christ was at once the effect, evidence, and expression — he

            meant, in one word, all that we mean by the gospel. And this, we say, is the

            greatest blessing in the world today. The human world lives under a system

            of mercy, and mercy pours on it every hour blessings innumerable. But no

            blessing has come to it, has ever been found in it, or will ever come to it,

            equal to the cross or the gospel of Jesus Christ!   Look at it, for example, in

            only three of its many aspects, and you will be impressed with its incomparable    



ü      As a Revealer. The chief value of the material universe is, that it reveals

                        the spiritual and the eternal; but the gospel reveals all that the material                               

                        does of God and the universe with much greater fullness and effect. It                              

                        presents the “image of the invisible God.” All true theological doctrine                            

                        and ethical science come to us through the cross. It is the moral light

                         of the world.


ü      As an Educator. That in human life which is the most successful in

                        quickening, evolving, and strengthening all the powers of the human

                        mind is its chief blessing. The “cross of Christ” has done this a

                        thousand times more effectively than any other agency. Art,

                        government, science, poetry, philosophy, owe infinitely more to it than

                        to any other agent in the world.  The cross is to the human soul what the                            

                        vernal sunbeam is to the seed; it penetrates, warms, quickens, and brings                            

                        all its latent powers out to perfection.


ü      As a Deliverer. The cross is more than a revealer or an educator; it is a

                        deliverer. The human soul is condemned, diseased, enthralled; every-                                 

                        where it groans under the sentence of its own conscience. It languishes                              

                        under a moral malady; it is fettered by lusts, prejudices, evil habits, and                             

                        social influences; its deepest cry is, “O wretched man that I am, who                              

                        shall deliver me?”  (Romans 7:24)  The cross bears a pen to cancel the                              

                        sentence, a balm to heal the wound, a weapon to break the fettering chain.                                    

                        Such, and infinitely more, is the cross. What would human life be without                          

                        it? A voyage without a compass, chart, or star.  (How are you making it

                        in life?  I have always heard a picture is worth a thousand words – For

                        thought provoking ideas, I recommend Thomas Cole’s Paintings –

                        Voyage of Life - four in number – Childhood, Youth, Manhood,

                        Old Age – click on each photograph and enlarge – view and ponder –

                        (type above in blue in browser on the internet and see what you get –

                        well worth the effort – CY – 2010 – below are facsimiles)


                                                                Childhood                                                      Youth


                                                                       Manhood                                         Old Age

                 You will have to go to the above web site to enlarge these pictures.


  • The greatest EVIL in the world. What is the evil? Making this cross of

none effect.” That is “none effect” so far as its grand mission is concerned.

Some effect it must have; it will deepen the damnation where it does not save!

      “We are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and

      in them that perish:  To the one we are the savor of death unto death,

      and to the other the savor of life unto life” – (II Corinthians 2:15-16) - We

      offer three remarks concerning this tremendous evil.


ü      It is painfully manifest. The fact is patent to all, that the cross has not to

                        any great extent in Christendom produced its true effect. Though it has

                        been in the world upwards of eighteen hundred years, (now two

                        thousand – CY – 2010) a small percentage of the human population

know anything about it, and not one-hundredth of those who know

something of it, experience its true effect. Intellectually, socially,

politically, it has confessedly done wonders for mankind; but morally,

how little! How little genuine holiness, disinterested philanthropy,

self-sacrificing devotion to truth and God! How little Christlikeness

of life! In all moral features, England (the United States) is well-nigh

as hideous as heathendom!


ü      It is easily explained. How is it done? The apostle in this verse indicates

                        one way in which it could be done, that is, by “wisdom of words,” by

                        which we understand him to mean gorgeous rhetoric. What is called the

                        Church has done it; that is, the assembly of men who profess to be its

                        disciples, representatives, ministers, and promoters. The Church has

                        done it:


Ø      By its theologies. In its name it has propounded dogmas that

      have clashed with reason and outraged conscience.


Ø      By its polity. It has sanctioned wars, promoted priest-craft,

      established hierarchies, which have fattened on the ignorance

      and poverty of the people.


Ø      By its spirit. The spirit of the Church, as a rule, is in direct

      antagonism to the spirit of the cross. The spirit of the cross is self

      sacrificing love; the spirit of the conventional Church has been to

      a great extent that of selfishness, greed, ambition, and oppression.  

      Mal-representation of Christ by the Church is the instrument that   

      has made the cross of “none effect.”


ü      It is terribly criminal. It is wonderful that man has the power thus to

                        pervert Divine institutions and blessings; but such perverting power he                               

                        has, and he uses it every day even in natural things. He forges metals

                        into weapons for murder, he turns bread corn into liquids to blight the                               

                        reason and to damn the souls of men. (to say nothing of the drug                                       

                        cultureCY – 2010) - Wonderful power this! and terrible is the

                        crime in employing it for perverting the cross of Christ. A greater crime

                        than this you cannot conceive of. Were you to turn all bread into poison,

                        make the flowing rivers pestiferous, quench the light of the sun, mantle

                        the stars in sackcloth, you would not perpetrate a crime half so enormous                           

                        as that of making the cross of Christ of “none effect.”


  • CONCLUSION. Two questions.


ü      What is the spiritual influence of the cross on us? Has it crucified unto

                        us the world; destroyed in us the worldly spirit — the spirit of practical

                        atheism, materialism, and selfishness?


ü      What are we doing with the cross? Are we abusing it or rightly

                        employing it?



                        The Nature of True Christian Preaching (vs. 18-25)


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. Rather, the word of the cross.   Is to them that are perishing. (I remember

the old song from a child that encouraged Christians to Rescue the PerishingCY –

2010)  To all those who are now walking in the paths that lead to destruction 

(II Corinthians 2:15).  Foolishnes. To them it was foolishness, because it requires

spiritual discernment (ch. 2:14); and, on the other hand, human wisdom is

foolishness with God (ch. 3:19). It shows the heroic character of the faith

of Paul that he deliberately preached the doctrine of the cross because he felt

that therein lay the conversion and salvation of the world, although he was well

aware that he could preach no truth so certain at first to revolt the unregenerate

hearts of his hearers. To the Jews the crosswas the tree of shame and horror;

and a crucified person was “accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians

3:13). To the Greeks the cross was the gibbet of a slave’s infamy and a murderer’s

punishment. There was not a single association connected with it except those of

shame and agony. This was Christ’s great sacrifice  because He, who knew no sin,

became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God  in Him

[II Corinthians 5:21] – CY – 2010)  The thought of “a crucified Messiah” seemed to

the Jews a revolting folly; the worship of a crucified malefactor seemed to the Greeks

“an execrable superstition” (Tacitus, ‘Ann.,’ 15:44; Pliny, ‘Epp.’ 10:97); yet so little

did Paul seek for popularity or immediate success, that this was the very doctrine

which he put in the forefront, even at a city so refined and so voluptuous as Corinth.

(Could it be that the reason that few people are being saved today is Christ is not

preached crucified? – CY - 2010) And the result proved his inspired wisdom.

That very cross became the recognized badge of Christianity, and when three

centuries had elapsed it was woven in gold upon the banners and set in jewels on the

diadems of the Roman empire. For had not Christ prophesied, And I, if I be lifted up,

will draw all men unto me”? - (John 12:32) “but unto us which are saved it is the

power of God.” - It is the power of God!  Because the cross is at the heart of that

gospel which is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”

(Romans 1:16; 8:3), though many were tempted to be ashamed of it. It could never

be a carnal weapon of warfare, and yet was mighty for every purpose (II Corinthians



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

 - This formula ( chps. 1:31; 2:9; 3:19; 9:9; 10:7; 15:45;  II Corinthians 8:15)

is chiefly used in letters to Churches in which there were many Jews – I will

destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding

of the prudent.  This is a free citation from the Septuagint of Isaiah 29:14-15 –

“Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people,

even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall

perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto

them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are

in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?” -

[Could it be that this is what is going on in the White House, the halls of Congress,

and in the leading, deceiving, spin-doctoring MEDIA of today? – CY – 2010] –

(I will add this:  I think I can eliminate the White House today as the current

sitting President has prayer meetings with his staff!?  CY – 2018) (the same thought is

found in Job 5:12-13; see too Matthew 11:25). The original .passage refers to penal

judgments from the Assyrians, which would test the false prophets of Israel. 




Two Classes of Gospel Hearers (vs. 18-19)


“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 it is written, I will destroy

the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the

prudent.” (vs. 18-18=9)  - Instead of the “preaching of the cross,” the New Version

reads, the “word of the cross,” and the word of the cross stands in contrast to the

word of worldly wisdom. How great is the contrast! We have here two classes of gospel



  • The one is gradually PERISHING, the other is gradually BEING SAVED.

      The perishing and the saving are gradual.


ü      There is a class in every congregation, perhaps, gradually perishing.

                        They are gradually losing moral sensibility — contracting fresh guilt, etc.

                        They are not damned at once.


ü      There is a class in every congregation, perhaps, gradually being saved.


·         To the one class the gospel is FOOLISHNESS, to the other the POWER OF



ü      It is “foolishness” to them that are perishing, because it has no meaning,

                        no reality.


ü      It is a Divine “power” to them that are being saved. Enlightening,

                        renovating, purifying, ennobling. The power of God stands in contrast

with mere philosophy and eloquence.


20  Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this

world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? Where is the wise?

(Isaiah 33:18); rather, Where is a wise man? i.e. a scribe, etc., which is even more

incisive. These questions are triumphant, like the "Where is the King of Hamath and

of Arpad?" The same impassioned form of speech recurs in ch. 15:55 and in Romans

3:27. The questions would come home to the Jews, who regarded their rabbis and

the "pupils of the wise as exalted beings who could look down on all poor ignorant

persons (amharatsim, or "people of the land"); and to the Greeks, who regarded

none but the philosophers as "wise." The scribe. With the Jews of that day

“the scribe" was "the theologian," the ideal of dignified learning and orthodoxy,

though for the most part he mistook elaborate ignorance for profound knowledge.

The disputer. The word would specially be true of the Greek clever dialecticians. 

The verb from which this word is derived occurs in Mark 8:11, and the abstract

substantive (“an eager discussion”) in Acts 28:29. If Paul has Isaiah 33:18 in

his mind, the word "disputer" corresponds to "the counter of the towers" (compare

Psalm 48:12). Even the rabbis say that when Messiah comes human wisdom is to

become needless. Of the world; rather, of this age, or aeon. The old dispensation,

then so rapidly waning to its close, was called "this age" (olam hazzeh);

the next or Messianic age was called "the age to come" (olam habba). The Messianic

age had dawned at the birth of Christ, but the old covenant was not finally annulled

till His second coming at the fall of Jerusalem. Hath not God made foolish the wisdom

of the world? rather, Did not God (by the cross) stultify the wisdom, etc.? The

oxymoron, or sharp contrast of terms   a figure of which Paul is fond (see

I Timothy 5:6; Romans 1:20; and my ‘Life of St. Paul,’ 1:628) — is here clearly

marked in the Greek. The thought was as familiar to the old prophets (Isaiah 44:25)

as to Paul (Romans 1:22); and even Horace saw that heathen philosophy was

sometimes no better than insaniens sapientia [crazily good sense} (Horace, ‘Od.,’

1:34, 2). 



Wisdom and Foolishness (v. 21)


“Seeing 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.”


·         THE CONTRAST AT CORINTH. The Greeks could no longer boast of

great soldiers or statesmen, for military and political power had deserted

them and centered at Rome; but they had among them rhetoricians and

philosophers, and still considered themselves intellectual leaders of the

world. In this spirit they sat in judgment on THE GOSPEL.   As to his

treatment of the problems of sin and righteousness, they were not deeply

concerned; but they were ready to weigh and measure it as a new philosophy,

and thought it deficient in intellectual flavor, and quite inferior to the

speculations of Greek teachers on the nature of God and of man, the order

of the world, the beautiful and the good. Paul knew this feeling well,

and felt the sting of such imputations, for he was an educated man; but

with his usual frankness and manliness he faced this allegation of the

supercilious Greeks, and with a sharp spear pricked the bubble of their self

conscious wisdom. Nay, he boldly maintained that what they thought wise

was foolish, and what they thought foolish WAS WISE!   At the same time,

he was too wary and too kind hearted to irritate his readers by pointing the

statement at Corinth, or even at Greece by name. He spoke of the wisdom

of the world. Let all the wisdom to which the whole world had attained by

human investigation into the things of God be gathered into a heap, and

displayed in all the light that the world’s best minds could cast upon it, and

he would maintain that it was weak, dim, and futile as compared with that

wisdom which he and other preachers of Christ could instill by the

REVEALED GOSPEL!  It was a large claim; but those who know “the

wisdom of the ancients” best, and are most accurately acquainted with the

ideas and usages of that old heathen world, will be the most ready to say

that Paul had good ground for his assertion — that his claim was absolutely



·         THE CONTRAST TODAY. Contemptuous thoughts about the

evangelical faith show themselves in many quarters, Men seem to forget

that the intellectual advancement of modern society, of which they boast,

and which they put forward as superseding old fashioned Christianity, is

itself mainly due to Christianity; that the great schools and universities of

Europe all had their roots in religion; and that the very ideas which give

tone and breadth to our civilization, the appreciation of the force of truth,

and the sense of human brotherhood as something far above mere

enthusiasm for one race and antipathy to all others, all have been

engendered and fostered by our holy faith!  Ungratefully overlooking this,

men stand today on an eminence which Christianity has cast up, and thence

decry Christianity. Religion is pronounced weak and quite unprovable. It is

not good enough for these very knowing people and hard thinkers! Yet

nothing is more certain than that men have urgent need of God, and of

those moral helps and profound consolations which are bound up with a

knowledge of God and friendship with Him. And the heart at times has a

passionate cry, “Where is my God?” Put aside the money bags, the clever

schemes, the amusements, the newspapers, the scientific instruments, and

the social engagements, and tell me this, O wisdom of the world! “Where is

God my Maker? Is there not a Highest and Wisest and Best? And where is

he? Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his

seat!”  (Job 23:3)   What can the wisdom of this world reply? It does not deny

Divine existence, though a good many persons are coldly doubtful and agnostic

on the subject. But as in the first century any effective conception of the

Divine was wearing out of thoughtful minds, and there was hardly any

religious check on licentiousness and rapacity; so now there are mere

vague and high sounding phrases about the Almighty current among the

worldly wise, without as much real faith in God as may restrain one fit of

passion or dry one bitter tear. (For instance, the hand-wringing of those

who are decrying recent school shootings.  I announce with all confidence

that had America kept the faith in the last sixty years that the Judaeo-Christian

teaching of “Thou shalt not kill” would have prevented our current foolish

situation.  He is a force — personal or impersonal, no

one knows; where seated, why operative, how directed, none can tell. Or,

he is a dream of ineffable beauty and a fountain of ineffable pity; but how

to reconcile this with the more severe aspects of nature and life BAFFLES

ALL THE WISDOM OF THE WORLD!  The sages arc puzzled; the

multitude know not what to think; and so the world by wisdom knows not

God. But there is a better wisdom, and Paul has shown it to us. It may be

well for some to watch the weary gropings and struggles of the world’s

wisdom, and speak or write on the evidences of Biblical theology and the

Christian faith when they find a fit occasion. Yet those to whom the gospel

is committed ought not, as a general rule, to turn aside to such discussions.

They ought to preach often and earnestly, trusting to God’s vindication

of the wisdom of that which men call foolishness. “What will this babbler

say?” they cried against Paul in Athens (Acts 17:18). “What will this heretic

say?” they cried against Wickliffe in England, and afterwards against Luther

in Germany. “What will this tub thumper say?” they cried against Whitefield

and Wesley — men who, under God, saved the moral and religious life of

England. But however preachers may be mocked, the foolishness of

preaching has abundantly shown itself to be wisdom by its results.

Its seeming weakness covers real power. O wise babbler who says,

“Christ crucified!”




Philosophy and the Gospel (vs. 20-21)


“Where is the wise?”  The “wise” (σοφός - sophoswise one) here refers specially to

the sages of Greece. They were called at first “wise men,” and afterwards assumed a

more modest title, “lovers of wisdom,” philosophers. The “scribe” refers to the

learned among the Jews. The appeal of the text, therefore, is to the wisdom or the

philosophy of the world, including that of the Greek or Jew. Here we have:


·         Philosophy CHALLENGED by the Gospel. The apostle here challenges

            the wise men of the world to accomplish the end which the gospel had in

            view. That end was the impartation to men of the saving knowledge of

            God. Where, unaided, had it ever succeeded in accomplishing this? Who

            amongst the wise will come forward to give one single instance?


·         Philosophy CONFOUNDED by the gospel. “Hath not God made foolish

      the wisdom of this world?”  (v. 20)


ü      By doing what philosophy could not do. “The world by wisdom knew

                        not God.” (v. 21) - Though the pages of nature lay open to the eye, with

                        God’s signature on the whole, man failed to discover Him.


ü      By doing by the simplest instrumentality what philosophy could not do.

                        The proclamation of the history of Jesus of Nazareth, and that by a few

                        simple men regarded as the off-scouring of all things, did the work. Hath

                        not God in this way “made foolish the wisdom of the world”?  (v. 20)


·         Philosophy SUPERSEDED by the gospel. “It pleased God by the

            foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (v. 21) - The preaching is

            not foolish in itself, only in the estimation of the would be wise men. The great

            want of men is salvationthe restoration of the soul to the knowledge,

            the likeness, the fellowship of God. This want philosophy cannot supply;

            but the gospel does. It has done so, it is doing so, and it will continue to do



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.”

For after that in the wisdom of God  - that is, as a part of His Divine economy –

The world by wisdom knew not God.  In the Culture Wars of the 21st Century,

these words might be written as an epitaph on the tomb of ancient, and of

modern philosophy and science so far as it assumes an anti-Christian form. 

(Luke 10:21). Human wisdom, when it relies solely on itself, may “feel after God,”

but hardly find Him (Acts 17:26-27). [They are like the blind man, looking in a dark

room for a black cat, that isn’t there – CY – 2010].  It pleased God by the

foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.  This is a mistranslation. It

would require κῆρυξεοςkeruxeospreaching - not κηρύγματοςkerugmatos

proclamation. It should be by the foolishness (as men esteemed it) of the thing



22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” Jews ask for

 signs; rather, Jews demand signs. This had been their incessant demand during our

Lord’s ministry; nor would they be content with any sign short of a sign from

heaven (Matthew 12:38; 16:1; John 2:18; 4:48). This had been steadily refused

them by Christ, who wished them rather to see spiritual signs (Luke 17:20-21)

Greeks seek after wisdom.  Paul at Athens had found himself surrounded

with Stoics and Epicureans, and the same new thing which every one was

looking for mainly took the shape of philosophic novelties (Acts 17:21).


23 “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock,

and unto the Greeks foolishness;”  But we preach Christ crucified,

It was only by slow degrees that the title "the Christ," i.e. the Anointed,

the Messiah, passed into the name Christ.  Unto the Jews a stumbling-block. 

They had for centuries been looking for a regal and victorious Messiah, who

should exalt their special privileges. The notion of a suffering and humiliated

Messiah, who reduced them to the level of all God’s other children, was to them

“a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” (Romans 9:33 and compare

Isaiah 8:14) These two verses, translated into Syriac, furnish a marked play on

words (miscol, stumbling block; mashcal, folly; seed, cross); and some have

seen in this a sign that St. Paul thought in Syriac. Unto the Greeks; rather,

unto Gentiles; א, A, B, C, I). Unto the Jews... unto the Greeks.  Both alike

had failed.


  • The Jew had not attained ease of conscience or moral perfectness;
  • the Greek had not unriddled the secret of philosophy;


yet both alike rejected the peace and the enlightenment which they had

professed to seek.  Foolishness. The accent of profound contempt is discernible

in all the early allusions of Greeks and Romans to Christianity. The only epithets

which they could find for it were “execrable,” “malefic,” “depraved,” “damnable”

(Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny, etc.). The milder term is “excessive superstition.”

The heroic constancy of martyrs appeared even to Marcus Aurelius only

under the aspect of a “bare obstinacy.” The word used to express the scorn of the

Athenian philosophers for Paul’s “strange doctrine” is one of the coarsest disdain

σπερμολόγος - sper-mol-og’-os;  a seed-picker, like a crow or some other bird,

picking up seeds  (Acts 17:18), i.e. a mere picker up of “learning’s crumbs.”



24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of

God, and the wisdom of God.” Unto them that are called (see Romans 8:28);

literally, to the called themselves. Both Jews and Greeks.  Henceforth the middle

wall of partition between them is thrown down (Ephesians 2:14), and there is no

difference (Romans 10:12). Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

These words are a summary of  the gospel. Paul is the best commentator on himself. 

He speaks elsewhere of “the exceeding greatness of God’s power to usward who

believe which He wrought in Christ” (Ephesians 1:17-20), and of “all the treasures

of wisdom and knowledge” as being “hid in Christ” (Colossians 2:3). And the world,

once so scornful, has learned that Christ is indeed the Power of God.




Christ Crucified (vs. 22-24)


It is difficult for us to realize the deep rooted strength of the prejudices the

truth of Christ encountered on its first proclamation. One thing, however,

is clear — while the apostles accommodated the mode of their teaching to

those prejudices, they never so accommodated the teaching itself. Their

doctrine was THE SAME FOR ALL!  They never thought of modifying it or

softening down its essential peculiarities, to suit the taste of any. With

reference to the form of his teaching,  Paul says, “To the weak I became

weak,” etc. (I Corinthians 9:22); with reference to the substance.

Though we or an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel

unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be

accursed.”  (Galatians 1:8). Jews and Greeks are the two broad classes under

which these varieties of prejudice might be grouped; and here are their

prominent characteristics. “Jews ask for signs.” It was so in the days of

Christ. “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after asign  (Matthew 12:39);

“Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” (John 4:48). And in the

apostolic age the race everywhere manifested the same mental tendency.

They were sign seeking Jews. “Greeks seek after wisdom” — such wisdom

as found a home for itself in their own philosophic schools. They knew no

other. Thus each of these classes illustrated a particular aspect of the vanity

of human nature; the one craving after that which would minister to the

pride of sense, the other to the pride of intellect. For both Paul had but one

message: “Christ and Him crucified.” Note:


·         THE THEME OF THE APOSTOLIC TEACHING. “We preach Christ

crucified (see also ch. 2:2; Galatians 3:1). This is thebsum and substance of

evangelical doctrine, the idea that filled the foremost place in the apostle’s

thought and supplied the chief inspiration of his heroic life. Not a little of the

emphasis falls on the word “crucified.” He preached Christ as the personal

Redeemer of men, and that not merely as:


Ø      the great miracle working Prophet of God,

Ø      the moral Reformer,

Ø      the Revealer of new truth,

Ø      the Lawgiver of a new spiritual kingdom,

Ø      the Example of a divinely perfect life, but as

Ø      the Victim of death.


It was in the death of Christ that the whole force and virtue of the apostolic

testimony about Him lay. What meaning did Paul attach to this death? The

mere reiteration of the fact itself would be powerless apart from its doctrinal

significance. If he had represented it simply as the crowning act of a life of

devotion and self sacrifice in the cause of God and of humanity, he would

have placed the Name of Christ on the level of many another name, and his

death on a level with the death of many another witness for truth and

righteousness; instead of which a virtue and a moral efficacy are

everywhere imputed to it, which cannot be conceived of as belonging to

any other death, and which alone explain the position it occupies in

apostolic teaching (see ch. 5:7; Ephesians 1:7; 2:14,16; Colossians 1:21;

I John 1:7; 2:2).


Ø      Forgiveness of sins,

Ø      spiritual cleansing,

Ø      moral freedom,

Ø      practical righteousness,

Ø      fellowship with God,

Ø      the hope of eternal glory,



CHRIST and our faith in it. Paul made it the one grand theme of his

ministry, because he knew that it would meet the deep and universal needs

of humanity. No other word would bring rest to the troubled conscience

and satisfaction to the longing, weary, distracted heart of man; no other

voice could awaken the world to newness of life out of the dread shadow

of despair and death in which it lay.


·         THE RECEPTION IT MET WITH, from “Jews,” “Gentiles” and

them that are called.”


Ø      “Unto Jews a stumbling block” — an offence, something “scandalous.”

On several special grounds Christ was such an offence to them.


o        The lowliness of His origin (humanly speaking – CY – 2018)

o        The unostentatious character of His life.

o        The unworldliness of His aims and methods.

o        The expansive spirit of His doctrine; its freedom from class and

national exclusiveness.

o        The universality of the grace He offered, and above all,

o        the fact of His crucifixion.


How could they recognize as their Messiah One who had died as the vilest

of malefactors; died by the judgment of their rulers and amid the derision

of the people; died by a death that above all others they abhorred? The

cross, which Paul made the basis of human hope and the central glory of

the universe, was to them “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.”


Ø      “Unto Gentiles foolishness.” The Gentile world was pervaded by Greek

sentiment. “Greece had now for more than a century been but a province of

Rome; but the mind of Greece had mastered that of Rome.” “The world in

name and government was Roman, but in feeling and civilization Greek.”

Such a world scorned the “preaching of the cross” because:


o        It lowered the pride of the human intellect, both by its simplicity and by

its profundity — so plain that “the wayfaring man though a fool,

should not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8) could understand it, too deep

for the utmost stretch of thought to fathom.


o        It revealed the rottenness of the human heart beneath the fairest

garment of civilization and culture. It made man dependent for all his

light upon supernatural revelations, and for all his hopes of redemption

on the spontaneous impulse of sovereign mercy. No wonder it was

foolishnessto proud Romans and polished, philosophic Greeks.

And have we not around us now similar phases of aversion to the

doctrine of “Christ crucified”? The spirit of the world is not the spirit

of the cross.


§         The one is:

ü      carnal,

ü      vain,

ü      selfish,

ü      revengeful, and

ü      self indulgent;


§         the other is:

ü      spiritual,

ü      lowly,

ü      benevolent,

ü      forgiving, and

ü      self abandoning.


The cross to every one of us means:

§         submission,

§         humiliation,

§         self sacrifice,

§         reproach and

§         shame.


These are hard to bear. It is hard to say, with Paul, “God forbid that I

should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom

the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

The cross may occupy a prominent place in our creed, our worship,

our sermons and songs, may decorate our churches, may be

made a favorite instrument of personal adornment; but to have its spirit

filling our hearts, molding and governing our whole being and life, is

another thing.


Ø      “Unto them that are called,” etc. The “called” are they who “are being

saved (v. 18). In the case of all such the Divine purpose in the gospel is

answered. They are called, and they obey the call. The heavenly voice falls

on their ears, penetrates the secrecy of their souls, and there is life for them

in the sound, because, like the still, small voice that breathed in the hearing

of Elijah at the mouth of the cave, “the Lord is in the voice.”  (I Kings 19:12-13)

The proof they have that the gospel is the embodiment of the power and wisdom

of God is the infallible seal of the Spirit, the unanswerable witness of a Divine

and heavenly life. Is it a “sign” that you ask for? Believe in Christ, and you

shall have within you that mightiest of all wonders, the miracle of grace by

which a soul is translated from darkness into light, and from the death of

sin to the life of holiness. Is it “wisdom” you seek after? Believe in Christ,

and He will unlock for you the unsearchable riches of the mind and heart of

God.   (Romans 11:33)




Christ the Power of God (v. 24)


The power of God is seen in nature and in providence, but here we have a

new conception of it. Jesus Christ is that Power. In His person, as God

manifest in flesh, there resides the potency of the Highest; but the apostle is

here thinking mainly of Him as crucified. In that cross, which seems to us

the culmination of weakness, he sees the very power of God. Consider:





Ø      The death of Christ manifests the power of God’s love. As soon as we

understand the meaning of the cross, we cannot help exclaiming, "Herein is

love!” (I John 4:10)  Nor is it merely the fact of His love to men which it

reveals, for this might be learned elsewhere; but it is the greatness of His

love. It is the “commendation” of it (Romans 5:8) — the presenting of

it in such a way as to powerfully impress us with its wonderful character.

Here is the Son of God dying for sinners; and on whichever part of this

statement we fix attention, it casts light on this marvelous love.


o        The Son of God! The strength of God’s love to us may be gauged by

the fact that He gave up to death His own Son. “God so loved the world

that he gave his only begotten Son,” etc. (John 3:16); “He that spared

not his own Son, but delivered us up for us all, how shall He not

with Him also freely give us ALL THINGS?”  (Romans 8:32).

What a power of love is here!  Not an angel, nor some unique being

specially created and endowed for the mighty task, but His HIS
 Human love has rarely touched this high water mark.


o        For sinners! “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Human

measures and analogies fail us here. “Greater love hath no man than

this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13); but

here is love for enemies. And love, not in mere sentiment, not in simple

forbearance, but in self sacrifice — love persisting in its purpose of

salvation in the face of hatred and scorn. Thus on both sides the love of

God is seen in power. And what a battery to play upon the hearts of men!


Ø      The death of Christ manifests the power of His justice. No reading of the

cross that leaves this element out of account can explain the mystery. In a

work the professed design of which is to restore men to righteousness,

there must surely be no breach of righteousness; yet it is here put to a

severe test. Is the Law impartial? Will it punish sin wherever it is found?

What if the Son of God Himself should be found with sin upon Him? Shall

the sword awake and smite the man that is God’s Fellow (Zechariah 13:7)?

Yes; for He dies there as one “bruised for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:5) 

Surely justice must be mighty when it lays its hand on such a victim. If that

modern description of God as a “power making for righteousness” is

applicable anywhere, it is so here; for nowhere is He so severely righteous

as in the working out of salvation for men. Nothing can more powerfully

appeal to conscience than His treatment of the sinner’s Surety; and nothing

can more thoroughly assure us that the pardon which comes to us through

the cross is righteous.



PRACTICAL EFFECTS, Our readiest measure of any force in nature is

the effect it produces, and in this way we may gauge the power of the

cross. Take it:


Ø      In regard to the powers of darkness. “For this purpose the Son of God

was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (I John

3:15; compare Hebrews 2:14). The execution of this purpose is intimated

in Colossians 2:15, “Having put off from Himself the principalities and

the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it

[the cross].” It is as if ten thousand fiendish arms were stretched out to

pluck Him from that cross; but He strips them off Him, and hurls them back

into the abyss. It cost Him much to win that victory, even “strong crying

and tears” and an agony of soul beyond all human experience (Hebrews

5:7; Luke 22: 44; but the triumph was complete.


Ø      In regard to the actual salvation of sinners. To deliver a man from sin in

all respects, undo its direful effects, and fit him to take his place among

God’s sons, — what power is adequate to this? Take Paul’s own

conversion, on which apologists have been willing to stake the supernatural

character of Christianity. And every conversion presents substantially the

same features. It is nothing less than a new creation (II Corinthians



o        a calling of light out of darkness,

o        order out of chaos,

o        life out of death;


and this is a more wonderful exercise of power than that which gave

existence to the universe. The fair temple of God in the soul has to be built,

not out of fresh hewn stones, but out of the ruins of our former selves. A

poor weak man is rescued from corruption, defended “against the spiritual

hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12), and

presented at last without blemish before God, — what but Divine power

can accomplish this? Add to this the exercise of this power in a countless

number of instances. From the steps of the throne survey that radiant

multitude, beautiful with the beauty of God and noble with the nobility of

Christ, and the might of the cross will need no other proof.


Ø      In regard to what He enables His people to do and suffer for His sake.

Take an active missionary life like that of Paul. Read such a catalogue of

afflictions as he gives us in II Corinthians 11:23-33, and ask why a man

should voluntarily undergo all these. Thousands have followed his

example, meeting toil, privation, death, for their Lord’s sake. Nor does the

power of the cross shine less conspicuously in the sick chamber. How

many a Christian invalid exhibits a patience, a meekness, a cheerfulness,

which can be found nowhere else!


 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of

God is stronger than men.” The foolishness of God... the weakness of God;

the method, that is, whereby God works, and which men take to be foolish and

weak, because with arrogant presumption they look upon themselves as the

measure of all things.    But God achieves the mightiest ends by the humblest

means, and the gospel of Christ allied itself from the first, not with the world’s

strength and splendor, but with all which the world despised as mean and feeble

with fishermen and tax gatherers, with slaves, and women, and artisans. The lesson

was specially needful to the Corinthians, whom Cicero describes  (‘De Leg. Age,’ 2:32)

as “famous, not only for their luxuriousness, but also for their  wealth and philosophic





Man’s Wisdom and God’s (vs. 17-25)


The mention of baptism leads the apostle to speak of his preaching at

Corinth. His mission was “not to baptize, but to preach the gospel,” and he

proceeds to vindicate his discharge of that mission as against those who

preferred the “wisdom of this world.”


·         THE THEME OF EVANGELICAL PREACHING. He calls it “the

word of the cross;” “Christ crucified” (compare ch. 2:2). Here

at Corinth, even more than elsewhere, Paul felt the necessity of adhering to

the simplicity of the gospel and disclaiming the “wisdom of words” upon

which others laid stress. The central point in his teaching was that which he

delighted to sum up in the expression, “the cross of Christ.” He did not

keep the Crucifixion out of sight as a thing to be ashamed of, but gloried in

it as the distinguishing feature of the good news he proclaimed. The

humiliation and death of the Saviour of men, His “becoming obedient unto

death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8), is the very kernel

of the gospel, the key which unlocks the mystery of his work. Paul might

have told them of a purer morality than their moralists had taught, and a

sublimer philosophy than Socrates or Plato had imagined; but this would at

best have stirred only a few minds to new thought, and made a few earnest

hearts feel that perfection was further off than ever. It was otherwise when

he could speak to them of the cross of Christ, with all that it implied; for in

this is THE DIVINE ANSWER to the great life query which men had

striven in vain to answer — How can man be just with God? Here is the

One dying for the many, the Son of God suffering as a substitute for

sinners, and thus SALVATION ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED. To preach

this was truly to bring glad tidings. The example of the apostle is a pattern

for all preachers. Let us not think to recommend Christianity by hiding the

cross or reducing it to a figure of speech, as if the death of Christ were

merely a testimony to the sincerity of His life. Christianity without the cross

is no real evangel to men.  You may admire the spotless life of Jesus, rejoice

in His wonderful teaching, bless Him for His Divine philanthropy, and weep

over His undeserved fate; but this would simply make Him a greater Socrates

or a greater Paul. It is His atoning death above all that makes Him more to us

than any of the illustrious teachers or martyrs of history. But while this is

true, we must not suppose that preaching Christ means nothing more than

a simple recital of the way of salvation. Paul’s letters are virtually

summaries of his oral teaching; and in them we see how the one theme

expands into the whole circle of Christian truth, how Christ appears as

Prophet, Priest, and King, and how the gospel is applied to the trials and

duties of actual life. Let us not make narrow what God has made so broad.

Let us not stunt and deform our spiritual life by feeding only on one kind of

nourishment, and refusing the large provision He has made for us. We shall

preach Christ aright only by exhibiting the fullness that dwells in Him.



reference in this passage is to the theme of the preacher, there is also a

reference to the manner in which that theme is presented. “Not in wisdom

of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.” We may preach

Christ in such a way as to neutralize the gospel’s peculiar power.


Ø      We may do this by merely speculating about the death of Christ.

Philosophical essays on the work of Christ, and disquisitions on Christian

doctrine, have their place and value; but they must not usurp the place of

simple preaching. They appeal only to the intellect, whereas the sermon

appeals to the heart and conscience as well. As a matter of experience, it is

found that the style of preaching here condemned is productive of little

spiritual fruit.


Ø      We may do this by a rhetoric which hides the cross. The gospel may be

so adorned that men’s attention is drawn to the gaudy trappings or to the

preacher himself, instead of being fixed on the truth; and in so far as this is

the case its influence is lost. The flowers with which we bedeck the cross

too often hide it. The right idea of preaching may be gathered from the two

words translated “preach” in this passage. The first means “to bring glad

tidings — the good news of a Saviour for sinners (εὐαγγελίζεσθαι -

euaggelizesthai - to be bringing the well message, v.17); the second

signifies “to proclaim as a herald” the facts of salvation and

the invitations and promises founded upon them (κηρύσσομεν -

kaerussomen - are heralding, v. 23).  Evangelical preaching is a

publication of the good news to men, a direct setting forth of Christ

in all His offices. Thus presented, the cross is full of power to draw

men to the Saviour (John 12:32).



The preaching of the cross affects men according to their prepossessions.

Bent of mind, education, surroundings, largely determine their attitude

towards Christ. Two classes are mentioned by the apostle who rejected the

gospel for two different reasons.


Ø      The Jews. “Jews ask for signs,” i.e. they crave for some outward

miraculous exhibition to call forth their wonder. “Master, we would see a

sign from thee” (Matthew 12:38) was their constant demand of Jesus;

and, in so far as the demand was a legitimate one, it was complied with.

Peter on the day of Pentecost could speak of Jesus of Nazareth as “a man

approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs”

(Acts 2:22). The chief sign of all was the cross; but the Jews did not

understand it. They stumbled at it as a “scandal,” which they could not get

over, and which seemed to them to say the opposite of what God intended.

The cross was in their eyes the token of humiliation and shame. They

looked for a Messiah attended by far different manifestations, and they

would not believe in One who had been crucified. There are still those

among us who, like the Jews, seek after signs. They crave for the outward,

the visible, the sensational — for something to dazzle and startle.


o        The Roman Catholic will go hundreds of miles to visit the spot

where “our Lady” is supposed to have appeared, will gaze with

devout reverence on the curdled blood of Januarius turning liquid

before his eyes, and will touch with awe the relics of some saint,

believing that they will cure his diseases.


o        The Protestant, disdaining these superstitions, shows the same spirit in

other ways. He may love the sensuous in worship and the sensational in

preaching. He may run after the man who is an adept in oratorical

jugglery, who knows the day and the hour when the world is to end, etc.


Whatever is novel, unusual, popular, is sure to find such sign seekers among its

ardent supporters. To men of this temper the cross of Christ is still a

stumbling block.” For it speaks of humiliation, of obedience unto death,

of a quiet unostentatious doing of the will of God; and this is the very thing

such people feel to be distasteful. To go with Jesus into the garden, and

there drink the cup God puts to our lips; to endure with Him the

contradiction of sinners, and be exposed to shame and hissing; to go after

Him, denying ourselves and bearing our cross; — this is the meaning of the

sign. Is it any wonder if men stumble at it?


Ø      The Greeks. “Greeks seek after wisdom.” The idea of a crucified

Saviour was to them foolishness. Accustomed to the speculations of their

own philosophers, set forth with learning and subtlety, these lovers of

wisdom applied to the doctrine of the cross a purely intellectual test. It was

in their eyes a new philosophy, and Jesus of Nazareth was to be tried by

the same rules as the founders of their own schools. To these critical

Greeks Paul had nothing to offer but the story of Him who was crucified

(compare our Lord’s words to the Greeks, John 12:23, etc.). The cross

for them, as for the Jews, had but one language — it spoke of the lowest

infamy; and to preach salvation by a cross would be in their view the

sheerest absurdity. These Greeks have still their representatives in modern

life. There are those who glorify human intellect, and think themselves

capable of solving all mysteries. How many of our men of science seem to

lose their heads when they come to speak of Christianity! They have

nothing but a sneer for a “theology of blood;” and their quarrel with Jesus

is that, after giving the world such splendid precepts, He should have

imagined that He could save men by letting them crucify Him. In forms less

extreme than this the same spirit may be traced. Many hearers of the Word

have more regard to the mental grasp of the preacher, the literary finish of

the discourse, or the manner in which it is delivered, than to the scriptural

and edifying character of the truth preached. The simple preaching of

Christ crucified is to their thinking comparative folly. Let us not be carried

away by this craving for wisdom. “When once the idolatry of talent enters

the Church, then farewell to spirituality; when men ask their teachers, not

for that which will make them more humble and Godlike, but for the

excitement of an intellectual banquet, then farewell to Christian progress”

(F. W. Robertson). Observe the apostle’s statement with regard to these

despisers of the cross: “In the wisdom of God the world through its

wisdom knew not God.” Men groped after Him, but could not find Him. It

was part of the Divine scheme that the wisdom of the world should have

free scope to work; and only when it had exhausted itself was the world

ripe for the bringing in of the gospel. This was a part of the preparation for

Christ. Human wisdom is still inadequate. It cannot save a single soul.


o        Men perish as they speculate;

o        men die as they frame theories of life.


In God’s view, man’s wisdom is folly; in man’s view, God’s wisdom is folly.

Which is the wiser?



They are described as “called” (v. 24), as “believers” (v. 21), as “being

saved(v. 18); each term presenting a different aspect of their condition.


Ø      They are called by God out of the world into the fellowship of Christ;

Ø      being called, they believe in Him; and

Ø      believing, they are in the way of salvation.


There is no salvation without faith, and no faith without the

calling of God by His Word and Spirit. Now, to all such Christ is “the

Power of God, and the Wisdom of God.” The Jew stumbled at the cross as

a thing of weakness; the believer rejoices in it as a thing of power. It has

done for him what all other appliances failed to accomplish. It has made

him a new creature, bringing him out of darkness and death into light and

life. Every one who has been cured by a particular medicine is a witness to

the efficacy of that medicine; so every saved sinner bears testimony to the

power of the cross. And there is wisdom here as well as power — “the

wisdom of God.” Christ crucified is not a philosophy, but a fact; yet

through this fact there shines the highest wisdom. We can well understand

how the Greek mind, once brought to the obedience of faith, would revel

in this view of the cross. He would learn to see in Christ “all the treasures

of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). In Him “God is just, and

the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). In Him we

have the highest exemplification of that great law of the kingdom: “He that

humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). All that the ancient

philosophies had been striving after:


Ø      the knowledge of God,

Ø      the nature of man, and

Ø      the meaning of human life


 is to be found in JESUS CHRIST and HIM CRUCIFIED!  Here is the

center of all knowledge, round which all else revolves

in order and beauty. Here is the shrine where the wise men of the earth

must fall down and worship — the touchstone by which their speculations

must be tried. Here is “the wisdom of God,” outshining every other

manifestation in creation and providence — that wisdom by which we

become wise unto salvation.



The World’s Foolishness, and God’s Wisdom (vs. 19-25)


So far as we can understand the Divine dealings with our race, it appears

that, for some four thousand years, God left the nations to a free

experiment. They might find out for themselves what is the “chief good of

man.” The more civilized Gentile nations were interested in one form of the

experiment, viz. — Can man find God, and all in God, by the researches of

his own wisdom? At Corinth much was made of man’s “wisdom.”

Therefore Paul deals with it, and shows that:


·         HITHERTO MAN’S WISDOM HAD FAILED. The various devices of

science, philosophy, and religion may be reviewed; and the actually

hopeless moral condition of Paul’s age should be forcibly presented. There

was prevalent atheism; religion was mocked at; philosophy was an

amusement, and had become a mere logomachy (an argument about words),

an arena for mere disputants; and there was no satisfaction for man’s mind or

heart anywhere. The foolishness of the world’s wisdom was declared. Impress

what must be the consequences always if man’s wisdom is made mistress,

and not kept handmaid.



not to be the Divine agency employed in the redemption of the world. That

should be revelation, not man’s discovery. A manifestation (Divine), in the

earthly spheres, beyond human imagination. A life and death, in which

human wisdom would see naught but weakness and shame. And the simple

heralding of a message, the proclaiming of a fact and truth given, which

the wise of this world would think any commonplace and ignorant person

could do. Yet God’s wisdom proves able to accomplish that in which

man’s wisdom failed. For the gospel preaching does bring God near to

men, does bring home to them the knowledge of Him and the love of Him,

and does give to men the:


Ø      salvation,

Ø      satisfaction, and



which they both NEED and SEEK!




                        The Method of God in the Spread of the Gospel (vs. 26-31)


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 behold; or, consider (imperative,

as in ch.10:15; Philippians 3:2). Your calling; the nature and method of your heavenly

calling; the "principle God has followed in calling you" (Beza); see Ephesians 4:1;

Hebrews 3:1. Not many wise after the flesh. Those who hear the calling are the truly

wise; but they are not wise with a carnal wisdom, not wise as the world counts wisdom;

they have but little of the wisdom of the serpent and the wisdom of “this age.” The

Sanhedrin looked down on the apostles as unlearned and ignorant men (Acts 4:13).

but they also “took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus - “God,” says

St. Augustine, “caught orators by fishermen, not fishermen by orators.” Not many

mighty; i.e. not many persons of power and influence. Almost the first avowed

Gentile Christian of the highest rank was the consul Flavius Clemens, uncle of the

Emperor Domitian. This was the more marked because the Jews won many rich

and noble proselytes, such as the Queen Helena and the royal family of Adiabene,

Poppaea the wife of Nero, and others. The only illustrious converts mentioned

in the New Testament are Joseph of Arimathaea, Nicodemus, Sergius Paulus,

and Dionysius the Areopagite. Not many noble. All this was a frequent taunt against

Christians, but they made it their boast. Christianity came to redeem and elevate, not

the few, but the many, and the many must ever be the weak and the humble. Hence

Christ called fishermen as His apostles, and was known as “the Friend of publicans

and sinners.” – (Matthew 11:19) - None of the rulers believed on Him (John 7:48).

It must, however, be borne in mind that these words apply mainly and primarily to

the first age of Christianity. It was essential that its victory should be due to Divine

weapons only, and that it should shake the world “by the irresistible might of

weakness.” (Consider the teaching of Christ about the grain of mustard seed –

Mark 4:31-32) After a time, the wisest and the noblest and the most powerful

were called. Kings became the nursing fathers of the gospel, and queens

its nursing mothers.  Yet the ideal truth remains, and human power shows

utter weakness, and human wisdom is capable of sinking into THE DEPTHS



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;”   God chose; not, hath chosen out. We may remark, once for all, that

there was no reason why the translators of 1611 should thus have turned the Greek

aorists of the New Testament into perfects. In this and in many instances the change

of tense is unimportant, but sometimes it materially and injuriously affects the sense.

The foolish things... the weak things. So, too, the psalmist, "Out of the mouths of

babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength" (Psalm 8:2); and James, "Hath

not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith?" (James 2:5).


28 “And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God

chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are:”

And base things of the world” - literally, low-born, unborn; “those who are sprung

from no one in particular.” Nothing could be more ignoble in the eyes of the world

than a cross of wood upheld by feeble hands, and yet before it “kings and their armies

did flee and were discomfited, and they of the household divided the spoil.” And

things which are not.  The not is the Greek subjective negative (μὴmae - no –

a primary particle of qualified negation; things of which men conceived as not

existing — “nonentities.” It is like the expression of Clement of Rome, “Things

accounted as nothing.”  Christianity was “the little stone, cut without hands,”

(Daniel 2:34,45) which God called into existence. (This is prophetic of what

Christ’s kingdom will accomplish – CY – 2010)   We find the same thought in

John the Baptist’s sermon (Matthew 3:9). 


29 “That no flesh should glory in His presence.” For the weak instruments of God’s

triumphs are so weak that it was impossible for them to ascribe any power or merit

to themselves. In contemplating the victory of the cross, the world could only

exclaim, “This hath God wrought.” “It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous

in our eyes.  (Psalm 118:23)




God Destroys  the Conventionally Great by

      the Conventionally Contemptible

        (vs. 26-29)


“For ye see your calling, brethren,” -  These verses remind us of two facts:



FORMS.  Evil is spoken of in these verses as the “wise” and the “mighty.”

In Corinth dangerous errors wore the costume of wisdom. Power was also

on their side. Sages, poets, artists, statesmen, wealth, and influence stood

by them, and they appeared “mighty.”  Men in England, (America) as in

Corinth, have robed evils in attractive costumes, and labeled them with

brilliant names. Often, indeed, has religion itself been used as a means

of covering vices, and of raising the vilest passions of the human heart

into the spheres of worship. Everywhere evil assumes a respectable garb.


Ø      Infidelity. This great evil writes and speaks in the stately formularies of

                        philosophy and science; borrows its sanctions from astronomy,

chronology, criticism, and metaphysics. It is a “wise” thing of the world.


Ø      Licentiousness. This evil, which involves the utter neglect of all social

                        obligations, and the unrestrained development of the base and vicious

lusts of the soul, passes under the grand name of liberty. (freedom of

expression - CY – 2010)


Ø      Social injustice. This is a demon which works in every sphere of life,

                        leading the crafty to take advantage of the ignorant, the strong of the

                        weak, the rich of the poor; and this does most of its fiendish work in the

                        name of law.


Ø      Selfishness. This goes under the name of prudence. The man whose

                        heart knows no throb of sympathy for another passes through life with

the reputation of a prudent man.


Ø      Bigotry. This, which leads men to brand all who differ from them as

                        heretics and doom them to perdition, wears the sacred name of religion.


Ø      War. This, which by the common consent of all Christian philosophers is

                        the pandemonium where all evil passions of the human heart run riot in

                        their most fiendish forms, is called glory. Thus here and now, as

                        everywhere and ever, evil appears as the “wise” and the “mighty.” That

                        errors and evils should appear in respectable forms is one of the most

                        unfavorable symptoms in all the history of man. Could we but take from

                        sin the mantle of respectability that society has thrown over it, we should

                        do much towards its annihilation.




the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” - The “wise” and

the “mighty” cannot protect evil. The agency to sweep evil away is here

represented as foolish,” “weak,” “base,” “despised,” and “things which

are not.” What does this language mean?


Ø      It does not mean that the gospel is an inferior thing. The gospel is no

                        mean thing. It has proved itself the wisdom of God and the power of God.


Ø      It does not mean that the men appointed as its ministers are to be

                        inferior. There are several things to show that the gospel ministry requires

                        the highest order of mind.


o        The character of the work. What is the work? Not the mere narration

      of facts or the enunciation of the current opinions of men. No; it is

      teaching men in all wisdom. Teaching implies the impartation to others

      of what they are ignorant of, and that in such a way as will commend

      it to the common sense.


o        The character of the system. If a man is to teach the gospel, he must

                                    first learn it. What a system it is to learn! Simpletons call the gospel

                                    simple; but intelligence has ever found it of all subjects the most

                                    profound and difficult. The greatest thinkers of all ages have found

                                    the work no easy task.


o        The character of society. Who exerts the most influence upon the real

                                    life of the men and women around him? The man of thought and

                                    intelligence. If the gospel ministry is to influence men it must be

                                    employed by men of the highest type of culture and ability.


o        The spirit of the work. What is the moral spirit in which the gospel

                                    should be presented to men? Humble, charitable, forbearing, reverent.

                                    Such a spirit comes only from deep thought and extensive knowledge.


o        The character of the apostles. Where can you find greater force of

      soul than Paul had? more searching sagacity than James had? They

      were men of talent and thought. Away, then, with the thought that the

      words here afford any encouragement for an ignorant or feeble ministry.


Ø      What, then, do they mean?


o       That the gospel was conventionally mean (average). The Founder

      was a carpenter’s Son. It was a “foolish” thing to the Greek.


o        That the first ministers were conventionally mean. They were

                                    fishermen, clerks, tent makers, etc. The system and its ministers,

                                    however, are merely conventionally contemptible, nothing more.

                                    These, like many other things that erring man regards as insignificant

                                    and mean, shall do a great work.  From this subject we may infer:


v      That, so long as evils exist in the world, great commotions

      are to be expected. God has chosen this system to “confound

      and bring to naught things that are!”


v      That the removal of evil from the world is, under God, to

      be effected through man as man. The gospel is to make its

      way in the world, not by men invested with adventitious

      endowments, such as scientific attainments, etc., but by men

      as men endowed with the common powers of human nature,

      but these powers inspired and directed by the living gospel.


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 are ye

in Christ Jesus”  Ye do not belong to the wise and noble. Your strength will consist

in acknowledged weakness; for it is solely derived from your fellowship with God

by your unity with Christ.  “Who of God is made unto us wisdom.   These words

rather mean, "Who was made unto us wisdom from God - both righteousness and

sanctification and redemption." The text is a singularly full statement of the

whole result of the work of Christ as the source of "all spiritual blessings in

things heavenly" (Ephesians 1:3), in whom we are complete (Colossians 2:10).

Righteousness.   (see II Corinthians 5:21). “Jehovah-tsidkenu — the Lord our

Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6). (I recommend This is the theme of Romans chps. 3-7.

Sanctification  (see especially ch. 6:11 and Ephesians 5:25-26). Redemption. One of

the four main metaphors by which the atonement is described is this of ransom

(lu>tron - loo’-tron; a redemption price (figurative atonement):  a ransom and

ajpolu>trwsiv - ap-ol-oo’-tro-sis; from a compound of ajpo> and lu>tron; (the act)

ransom in full, i.e. (figurative) riddance, or (specifically) Christian salvation:

deliverance, redemption.  The meaning and nature of the act, as regards God, lie

in regions above our comprehension; so that all speculations as to the person to

whom the ransom was paid, and the reason why it was indispensable, have only led

to centuries of mistaken theology. But the meaning and nature of it, as regards man, is

our deliverance from bondage, and the payment of the debt which we had incurred

(Titus 2:14; I Peter 1:18-20; Matthew 20:28; Romans 8:21-23).  



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

A compressed quotation from the Septuagint Version of Jeremiah 9:23-24;

I Samuel 2:10. Let him glory in the Lord. The word rendered “glory” is more

literally, boast. The reference is to the two aforementioned scriptures from the

(Septuagint). The prevalence of “boasting” among the Corinthians and their

teachers drove Paul to dwell much on this word — from which he so greatly

shrinks — in II Corinthians 10:12. (where the word occurs numerous times),

and to insist that the only true object in which a Christian can glory is

THE CROSS, (Galatians 6:14), not in himself, or in the world, or in men.



Salvation All of God (vs. 26-31)


The apostle has shown, in the previous section, that the cross of Christ,

which men count foolish and weak, is really the wisdom and the power of

God. In proof of this he now calls their attention to the social status of the

converts at Corinth. For the most part they were of no account in the

world’s esteem; but, though nobodies according to the flesh, they were

raised to true dignity in Christ.



PRINCIPLES OF THIS WORLD. “For behold your calling, brethren,” etc.

The Church at Corinth was composed chiefly of the poor and the illiterate.

The philosophers and the rich merchants, the high born and those who

occupied positions of influence, had but few representatives among the

disciples of Jesus. They were drawn in great part from those whom the

world reckoned foolish, weak, base, and of no importance. And the case of

Corinth was not singular. It is characteristic of Christianity to begin low

down. The Lord Jesus Himself was not born in a royal palace or nursed

among the lordly of the earth. His birthplace was a stable, His home the

simple dwelling of Joseph, His training school the carpenter’s workshop, His

disciples were derived mainly from the laboring classes. One or two of the

twelve may have been in easy circumstances, but none of them appears to

have been of high birth; and outside this circle His followers, with the

exception of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, were almost entirely of

the same class. From the beginning, therefore, the gospel found

acceptance, not in the high places of the land, nor among the

representatives of the learning and religion of the time, but among the

plain, unschooled, unsophisticated people. “The poor have good tidings

preached to them” (Luke 7:22). Beyond the bounds of Palestine it was

the same. The pride of wisdom and station closed the ear against THE STORY

OF THE CROSS.  It did not flatter the wise or the great. It spoke to all alike as

sinners needing a common salvation, and summoned all to repentance and

faith. The result may be illustrated by comparing the reception of the

gospel at Athens and at Corinth. In the metropolis of philosophy and art

only a few were converted (Acts 17:16-34); in the capital of trade a

large Church was formed. So also at Rome. The first and chief successes of

the gospel were among the lower classes of society; and this was urged as

an objection against it. Celsus jeers at the fact that “wool workers,

cobblers, leather dressers, the most illiterate and clownish of men, were

zealous preachers of the gospel, and particularly that they addressed

themselves, in the first instance, to women and children.” The rend Roman

could not understand a religion which treated the slave as a man, and

addressed itself equally to all. But the leaven thus put into the mass spread

not only outwards but upwards. From slave to master, from plebeian to

patrician, did the blessed influence pass, till at last the emperor himself was

constrained to do homage to Jesus Christ. To a large extent the course of

the gospel is the same still. In our own country the profession of

Christianity is not confined to any class in society; but a living godliness is

a plant of rarer growth. Among our men of science, our philosophers and

poets, and our hereditary nobility, there are to be found eminent Christians,

whose lives evince the power of the gospel over the finest intellects and the

most exalted station; yet it is mainly among those less privileged that the

Church is strongest. The greatest number of her members are to be found

among the humbler classes, especially among those who have neither riches

nor poverty, and who know the meaning of honest work. Illustrate also

from the history of modern missions to the heathen.


·         REASONS FOR THE DIVINE METHOD. When men inaugurate any

new scheme or system, they seek the patronage of great names in order to

recommend it to the people; but the gospel of salvation was not proclaimed

to the world under the auspices of kings and philosophers. This is referred

to the purpose of God (vs. 27-28), according to which all things

proceed. More particularly the end in view is:


Ø      The humiliation of human pride. “That no flesh should glory before

God” (v.  29).  Human wisdom and power are of small account in this

matter. Salvation is all of God. Had He chosen the wise and the great, pride

might have boasted itself before Him; but in choosing the foolish and the

weak, all ground of glorying is removed. This does not imply that the one

class is of more value in God’s sight than the other; nor does it put a

premium upon ignorance and weakness. It means that the wise man will

not be saved because of his wisdom, nor the nobleman because of his high

birth, nor the rich man because of his wealth. All trust in these things must

be put to shame, as is done when they that are destitute of them enter the

kingdom of heaven more readily. In the eye of the gospel all men arc equal,

which means that some must be humbled, while others are exalted. It is

always our Father’s way to “hide these things from the wise and

understanding, and to reveal them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). Pride

is at once insulting to God and hurtful to man; and it is in mercy that He

requires us to “become as little children” (Matthew 18:3). In like

manner, the advance of the gospel in the earth is not to be promoted by an

arm of flesh (“not by might, nor by power,” etc., Zechariah 4:6 - The

first sermon I ever heard by John Christian, a former pastor, was from

this verse - CY - 2018).  Christian work must not be undertaken for the

aggrandizement of persons, or parties, or sects. The flesh must not be

elevated to the dishonour of God.


Ø      The advancement of the Divine glory. Human pride is to be humbled,

that the honor of salvation may belong to God alone. It is the prerogative

of the Almighty to make His own glory the chief end of all He does. No

created being can do so. For man and angel, happiness consists in seeking

the glory of our Father in heaven. A life with self as the center, self as the

aim, MUST BE A LIFE OF MISERY!  Does not this explain the misery of

Satan?  “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven! It is otherwise with

the Most High. To seek His own glory is simply to desire truth and reality.

In the nature of things all praise is due to Him alone who is the Alpha and

the Omega of existence. Hence the glory of God coincides with the greatest

 “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  (v. 31; Jeremiah



·         THE RICHES IN CHRIST. Salvation is due entirely to God. It is of

him that we are in Christ Jesus. The believer’s union with Christ has been

brought about by God Himself, who has given us all things in his Son.


Ø      Wisdom. “In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden”

(Colossians 2:3). He reveals to us God:


o        His nature and His will,

o        His purpose and plan of grace,

v      in the person and work of Christ;

v      in his incarnation, life, teaching, atonement,


the wisdom of God shines out conspicuously. And in union with Christ

we become truly wise. In Him we have the key which opens all mysteries.

We learn to know God and to know ourselves; and in Him the broken

fellowship between God and us is restored. The quest for wisdom, alike

in its speculative and in its practical form, is satisfied ONLY IN HIM!


Ø      Righteousness. He is “Jehovah our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6).

To be righteous is to be in entire consistence with the mind and Law of

God; and this Jesus, as our Representative, was. He bore the penalty of our

sins, and met the positive requirements of the Law; and thus wrought out a

righteousness for us (II Corinthians 5:12; Galatians 3:13; I Peter 2:24).

When by faith we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, His work is

reckoned to us, and we are received as righteous for His sake.


Ø      Sanctification. This includes the whole of the process by which we are

restored to the image of God. Not only is the righteousness of Christ

imputed to us, the character of Christ must also be reproduced in us; and

this is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is His to illuminate, regenerate, purify;

and the whole man thus renewed is consecrated to God. Every part of the

nature spirit, soul, body; every activity of thought, affection, desire,

purpose; all are transformed and devoted to the noblest service.

Justification and sanctification are the two sides of one whole, never to

be separated.


Ø      Redemption. This denotes deliverance from all evil, enemies, afflictions,

death. Soul and body shall be completely emancipated, and presented at

last without blemish (Romans 8:23; Ephesians 5:26-27).