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Chapter 1

1:1 Called to be an apostle [klētos apostolos]. Verbal adjective [klētos] from [kaleō], without [einai], to be. Literally, a called apostle (Ro 1:1), not so-called, but one whose apostleship is due not to himself or to men (Ga 1:1), but to God, through the will of God [dia thelēmatos tou theou]. The intermediate [dia, duo], two) agent between Paul’s not being Christ’s apostle and becoming one was God’s will [thelēma], something willed of God), God’s command (1Ti 1:1). Paul knows that he is not one of the twelve apostles, but he is on a par with them because, like them, he is chosen by God. He is an apostle of Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus (MSS. vary here, later epistles usually Christ Jesus). The refusal of the Judaizers to recognize Paul as equal to the twelve made him the more careful to claim his position. Bengel sees here Paul’s denial of mere human authority in his position and also of personal merit: Namque mentione Dei excluditur auctoramentum humanum, mentione Voluntatis Dei, meritum Pauli. Our brother [ho adelphos]. Literally, the brother, but regular Greek idiom for our brother. This Sosthenes, now with Paul in Ephesus, is probably the same Sosthenes who received the beating meant for Paul in Corinth (Ac 18:17). If so, the beating did him good for he is now a follower of Christ. He is in no sense a co-author of the Epistle, but merely associated with Paul because they knew him in Corinth. He may have been compelled by the Jews to leave Corinth when he, a ruler of the synagogue, became a Christian. See 1Th 1:1 for the mention of Silas and Timothy in the salutation. Sosthenes could have been Paul’s amanuensis for this letter, but there is no proof of it.

1:2 The church of God [tēi ekklēsiāi tou theou]. Belonging to God, not to any individual or faction, as this genitive case shows. In 1Th 1:1 Paul wrote “the church of the Thessalonians in God” [en theōi], but “the churches of God” in 1Th 2:14. See same idiom in 1Co 10:32; 11:16,22; 15:9; 2Co 1:1; Ga 1:13, etc. Which is in Corinth [tēi ousēi en Korinthōi]. See on Ac 13:1 for idiom. It is God’s church even in Corinth, “laetum et ingens paradoxon” (Bengel). This city, destroyed by Mummius B.C. 146, had been restored by Julius Caesar a hundred years later, B.C. 44, and now after another hundred years has become very rich and very corrupt. The very word “to Corinthianize” meant to practise vile immoralities in the worship of Aphrodite (Venus). It was located on the narrow Isthmus of the Peloponnesus with two harbours (Lechaeum and Cenchreae). It had schools of rhetoric and philosophy and made a flashy imitation of the real culture of Athens. See Ac 18 for the story of Paul’s work here and now the later developments and divisions in this church will give Paul grave concern as is shown in detail in I and II Corinthians. All the problems of a modern city church come to the front in Corinth. They call for all the wisdom and statesmanship in Paul. That are sanctified [hēgiasmenois]. Perfect passive participle of [hagiazō], late form for [hagizō], so far found only in the Greek Bible and in ecclesiastical writers. It means to make or to declare [hagion] (from [hagos], awe, reverence, and this from [hazō], to venerate). It is significant that Paul uses this word concerning the called saints or called to be saints [klētois hagiois] in Corinth. Cf. [klētos apostolos] in 1:1. It is because they are sanctified in Christ Jesus [en Christōi Iēsou]. He is the sphere in which this act of consecration takes place. Note plural, construction according to sense, because [ekklēsia] is a collective substantive. With all that call upon [sun pāsin tois epikaloumenois]. Associative instrumental case with [sun] rather than [kai] (and), making a close connection with “saints” just before and so giving the Corinthian Christians a picture of their close unity with the brotherhood everywhere through the common bond of faith. This phrase occurs in the LXX (Ge 12:8; Zec 13:9) and is applied to Christ as to Jehovah (2Th 1:7,9,12; Php 2:9,10). Paul heard Stephen pray to Christ as Lord (Ac 7:59). Here “with a plain and direct reference to the Divinity of our Lord” (Ellicott). Their Lord and ours [autōn kai hēmōn]. This is the interpretation of the Greek commentators and is the correct one, an afterthought and expansion [epanorthōsis] of the previous “our,” showing the universality of Christ.

1:3 Identical language of 2Th 1:2 save absence of [hēmōn] (our), Paul’s usual greeting. See on 1Th 1:1.

1:4 I thank my God [eucharistō tōi theōi]. Singular as in Ro 1:8; Php 1:3; Phm 1:4, but plural in 1Th 1:2; Col 1:3. The grounds of Paul’s thanksgivings in his Epistles are worthy of study. Even in the church in Corinth he finds something to thank God for, though in II Cor. there is no expression of thanksgiving because of the acute crisis in Corinth nor is there any in Galatians. But Paul is gracious here and allows his general attitude (always, [pantote] concerning [peri], around) the Corinthians to override the specific causes of irritation. For the grace of God which was given to you in Christ Jesus [epi tēi chariti tou theou tēi dotheisēi humin en Christōi Iēsou]. Upon the basis of [epi] God’s grace, not in general, but specifically given [dotheisēi], first aorist passive participle of [didōmi], in the sphere of [en] as in verse 2) Christ Jesus.

1:5 That [hoti]. Explicit specification of this grace of God given to the Corinthians. Paul points out in detail the unusual spiritual gifts which were their glory and became their peril (chapters 1Co 12-14). Ye were enriched in him [eploutisthēte en autōi]. First aorist passive indicative of [ploutizō], old causative verb from [ploutos], wealth, common in Attic writers, dropped out for centuries, reappeared in LXX. In N.T. only three times and alone in Paul (1Co 1:5; 2Co 6:10, 11). The Christian finds his real riches in Christ, one of Paul’s pregnant phrases full of the truest mysticism. In all utterance and all knowledge [en panti logōi kai pasēi gnōsei]. One detail in explanation of the riches in Christ. The outward expression [logōi] here is put before the inward knowledge [gnōsei] which should precede all speech. But we get at one’s knowledge by means of his speech. Chapters 1Co 12-14 throw much light on this element in the spiritual gifts of the Corinthians (the gift of tongues, interpreting tongues, discernment) as summed up in 1Co 13:1, 2, the greater gifts of 12:31. It was a marvellously endowed church in spite of their perversions.

1:6 Even as [kathōs]. In proportion as (1Th 1:5) and so inasmuch as (Php 1:7; Eph 1:4). The testimony of Christ [to marturion tou Christou]. Objective genitive, the testimony to or concerning Christ, the witness of Paul’s preaching. Was confirmed in you [ebebaiōthē en humin]. First aorist passive of [bebaioō], old verb from [bebaios] and that from [bainō], to make to stand, to make stable. These special gifts of the Holy Spirit which they had so lavishly received (ch. 1Co 12) were for that very purpose.

1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift [hōste humas mē hustereisthai en mēdeni charismati]. Consecutive clause with [hōste] and the infinitive and the double negative. Come behind [hustereisthai] is to be late [husteros], old verb seen already in Mr 10:21; Mt 19:20. It is a wonderful record here recorded. But in 2Co 8:7-11; 9:1-7 Paul will have to complain that they have not paid their pledges for the collection, pledges made over a year before, a very modern complaint. Waiting for the revelation [apekdechomenous tēn apokalupsin]. This double compound is late and rare outside of Paul (1Co 1:7; Ga 5:5; Ro 8:19,23,25; Php 3:20), 1Pe 3:20; Heb 9:28. It is an eager expectancy of the second coming of Christ here termed revelation like the eagerness in [prosdechomenoi] in Tit 2:13 for the same event. “As if that attitude of expectation were the highest posture that can be attained here by the Christian” (F.W. Robertson).

1:8 Shall confirm [bebaiōsei]. Direct reference to the same word in verse 6. The relative [hos] (who) points to Christ. Unto the end [heōs telous]. End of the age till Jesus comes, final preservation of the saints. That ye be unreproveable [anegklētous]. Alpha privative and [egkaleō], to accuse, old verbal, only in Paul in N.T. Proleptic adjective in the predicate accusative agreeing with [humas] (you) without [hōste] and the infinitive as in 1Th 3:13; 5:23; Php 3:21. “Unimpeachable, for none will have the right to impeach” (Robertson and Plummer) as Paul shows in Ro 8:33; Col 1:22,28.

1:9 God is faithful [pistos ho theos]. This is the ground of Paul’s confidence as he loves to say (1Th 5:24; 1Co 10:13; Ro 8:36; Php 1:16). God will do what he has promised. Through whom [di’ hou]. God is the agent [di’] of their call as in Ro 11:36 and also the ground or reason for their call [di’ hon] in Heb 2:10. Into the fellowship [eis koinōnian]. Old word from [koinōnos], partner for partnership, participation as here and 2Co 13:13f.; Php 2:1; 3:10. Then it means fellowship or intimacy as in Ac 2:42; Ga 2:9; 2Co 6:14; 1Jo 1:3,7. And particularly as shown by contribution as in 2Co 8:4; 9:13; Php 1:5. It is high fellowship with Christ both here and hereafter.

1:10 Now I beseech you [parakalō de humas]. Old and common verb, over 100 times in N.T., to call to one’s side. Corresponds here to [eucharistō], I thank, in verse 4. Direct appeal after the thanksgiving. Through the name [dia tou onomatos]. Genitive, not accusative (cause or reason), as the medium or instrument of the appeal (2Co 10:1; Ro 12:1; 15:30). That [hina]. Purport (sub-final) rather than direct purpose, common idiom in Koinē (Robertson, Grammar, pp.991-4) like Mt 14:36. Used here with [legēte, ēi, ēte katērtismenoi], though expressed only once. All speak [legēte pantes]. Present active subjunctive, that ye all keep on speaking. With the divisions in mind. An idiom from Greek political life (Lightfoot). This touch of the classical writers argues for Paul’s acquaintance with Greek culture. There be no divisions among you [mē ēi en humin schismata]. Present subjunctive, that divisions may not continue to be (they already had them). Negative statement of preceding idea. [Schisma] is from [schizō], old word to split or rend, and so means a rent (Mt 9:16; Mr 2:21). Papyri use it for a splinter of wood and for ploughing. Here we have the earliest instance of its use in a moral sense of division, dissension, see also 1Co 11:18 where a less complete change than [haireseis]; 12:25; Joh 7:43 (discord); 9:16; 10:19. “Here, faction, for which the classical word is [stasis]: division within the Christian community” (Vincent). These divisions were over the preachers (1:12-4:21), immorality (5:1-13), going to law before the heathen (6:1-11), marriage (7:1-40), meats offered to idols (1Co 8-10), conduct of women in church (11:1-16), the Lord’s Supper (11:17-34), spiritual gifts (1Co 12-14), the resurrection (1Co 15). But that ye be perfected together [ēte de katērtismenoi]. Periphrastic perfect passive subjunctive. See this verb in Mt 4:21 (Mr 1:19) for mending torn nets and in moral sense already in 1Th 3:10. Galen uses it for a surgeon’s mending a joint and Herodotus for composing factions. See 2Co 13:11; Ga 6:1. Mind [noi], judgment [gnōmēi]. “Of these words [nous] denotes the frame or state of mind, [gnōmē] the judgment, opinion or sentiment, which is the outcome of [nous]” (Lightfoot).

1:11 For it hath been signified unto me [edēlōthē gar moi]. First aorist passive indicative of [dēloō] and difficult to render into English. Literally, It was signified to me. By them of Chloe [hupo tōn Chloēs]. Ablative case of the masculine plural article [tōn], by the (folks) of Chloe (genitive case). The words “which are of the household” are not in the Greek, though they correctly interpret the Greek, “those of Chloe.” Whether the children, the kinspeople, or the servants of Chloe we do not know. It is uncertain also whether Chloe lived in Corinth or Ephesus, probably Ephesus because to name her if in Corinth might get her into trouble (Heinrici). Already Christianity was working a social revolution in the position of women and slaves. The name Chloe means tender verdure and was one of the epithets of Demeter the goddess of agriculture and for that reason Lightfoot thinks that she was a member of the freedman class like Phoebe (Ro 16:1), Hermes (Ro 16:14), Nereus (Ro 16:15). It is even possible that Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus (1Co 16:17) may have been those who brought Chloe the news of the schisms in Corinth. Contentions [erides]. Unseemly wranglings (as opposed to discussing, [dialegomai] that were leading to the schisms. Listed in works of the flesh (Ga 5:19f.) and the catalogues of vices (2Co 12:20;Ro 1:19f.; 1Ti 6:4).

1:12 Now this I mean [legō de touto]. Explanatory use of [legō]. Each has his party leader. [Apollō] is genitive of [Apollōs] (Ac 18:24), probably abbreviation of [Apollōnius] as seen in Codex Bezae for Ac 18:24. See on Acts for discussion of this “eloquent Alexandrian” (Ellicott), whose philosophical and oratorical preaching was in contrast “with the studied plainness” of Paul (1Co 2:1; 2Co 10:10). People naturally have different tastes about styles of preaching and that is well, but Apollos refused to be a party to this strife and soon returned to Ephesus and refused to go back to Corinth (1Co 16:12). [Cēphā] is the genitive of [Cēphās], the Aramaic name given Simon by Jesus (Joh 1:42), [Petros] in Greek. Except in Ga 2:7,8 Paul calls him Cephas. He had already taken his stand with Paul in the Jerusalem Conference (Ac 15:7-11; Ga 2:7-10). Paul had to rebuke him at Antioch for his timidity because of the Judaizers (Ga 2:11-14), but, in spite of Baur’s theory, there is no evidence of a schism in doctrine between Paul and Peter. If 2Pe 3:15f. be accepted as genuine, as I do, there is proof of cordial relations between them and 1Co 9:5 points in the same direction. But there is no evidence that Peter himself visited Corinth. Judaizers came and pitted Peter against Paul to the Corinthian Church on the basis of Paul’s rebuke of Peter in Antioch. These Judaizers made bitter personal attacks on Paul in return for their defeat at the Jerusalem Conference. So a third faction was formed by the use of Peter’s name as the really orthodox wing of the church, the gospel of the circumcision. And I of Christ [egō de Christou]. Still a fourth faction in recoil from the partisan use of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, with “a spiritually proud utterance” (Ellicott) that assumes a relation to Christ not true of the others. “Those who used this cry arrogated the common watchword as their peculium” (Findlay). This partisan use of the name of Christ may have been made in the name of unity against the other three factions, but it merely added another party to those existing. In scouting the names of the other leaders they lowered the name and rank of Christ to their level.

1:13 Is Christ divided? [memeristai ho Christos;]. Perfect passive indicative, Does Christ stand divided? It is not certain, though probable, that this is interrogative like the following clauses. Hofmann calls the assertory form a “rhetorical impossibility.” The absence of [] here merely allows an affirmative answer which is true. The fourth or Christ party claimed to possess Christ in a sense not true of the others. Perhaps the leaders of this Christ party with their arrogant assumptions of superiority are the false apostles, ministers of Satan posing as angels of light (2Co 11:12-15). Was Paul crucified for you? [Mē Paulos estaurōthē huper humōn;]. An indignant “No” is demanded by []. Paul shows his tact by employing himself as the illustration, rather than Apollos or Cephas. Probably [huper], over, in behalf of, rather than [peri] (concerning, around) is genuine, though either makes good sense here. In the Koinē [huper] encroaches on [peri] as in 2Th 2:1. Were ye baptized into the name of Paul? [eis to onoma Paulou ebaptisthēte;]. It is unnecessary to say into for [eis] rather than in since [eis] is the same preposition originally as [en] and both are used with [baptizō] as in Ac 8:16; 10:48 with no difference in idea (Robertson, Grammar, p. 592). Paul evidently knows the idea in Mt 28:19 and scouts the notion of being put on a par with Christ or the Trinity. He is no rival of Christ. This use of [onoma] for the person is not only in the LXX, but the papyri, ostraca, and inscriptions give numerous examples of the name of the king or the god for the power and authority of the king or god (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 146ff., 196ff.; Light from the Ancient East, p. 121).

1:14 I thank God [eucharistō tōi theōi]. See verse 4, though uncertain if [tōi theōi] is genuine here. Save Crispus and Gaius [ei mē Krispon kai Gaion]. Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth before his conversion (Ac 18:8), a Roman cognomen, and Gaius a Roman praenomen, probably the host of Paul and of the whole church in Corinth (Ro 16:23), possibly though not clearly the hospitable Gaius of 3Jo 1:5,6. The prominence and importance of these two may explain why Paul baptized them.

1:15 Lest any man should say [hina mē tis eipēi]. Certainly sub-final [hina] again or contemplated result as in 7:29; Joh 9:2. Ellicott thinks that already some in Corinth were laying emphasis on the person of the baptizer whether Peter or some one else. It is to be recalled that Jesus himself baptized no one (Joh 4:2) to avoid this very kind of controversy. And yet there are those today who claim Paul as a sacramentalist, an impossible claim in the light of his words here.

1:16 Also the household of Stephanas [kai ton Stephanā oikon]. Mentioned as an afterthought. Robertson and Plummer suggest that Paul’s amanuensis reminded him of this case. Paul calls him a first-fruit of Achaia (1Co 16:15) and so earlier than Crispus and he was one of the three who came to Paul from Corinth (16:17), clearly a family that justified Paul’s personal attention about baptism. Besides [loipon]. Accusative of general reference, “as for anything else.” Added to make clear that he is not meaning to omit any one who deserves mention. See also 1Th 4:1; 1Co 4:2; 2Co 13:11; 2Ti 4:8. Ellicott insists on a sharp distinction from [to loipon] “as for the rest” (2Th 3:1; Php 3:1; 4:8; Eph 6:10). Paul casts no reflection on baptism, for he could not with his conception of it as the picture of the new life in Christ (Ro 6:2-6), but he clearly denies here that he considers baptism essential to the remission of sin or the means of obtaining forgiveness.

1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize [ou gar apesteilen me Christos baptizein]. The negative [ou] goes not with the infinitive, but with [apesteilen] (from [apostellō, apostolos], apostle). For Christ did not send me to be a baptizer (present active infinitive, linear action) like John the Baptist. But to preach the gospel [alla euaggelizesthai]. This is Paul’s idea of his mission from Christ, as Christ’s apostle, to be a gospelizer. This led, of course, to baptism, as a result, but Paul usually had it done by others as Peter at Caesarea ordered the baptism to be done, apparently by the six brethren with him (Ac 10:48). Paul is fond of this late Greek verb from [euaggelion] and sometimes uses both verb and substantive as in 1Co 15:1 “the gospel which I gospelized unto you.” Not in wisdom of words [ouk en sophiāi logou]. Note [ou], not [] (the subjective negative), construed with [apesteilen] rather than the infinitive. Not in wisdom of speech (singular). Preaching was Paul’s forte, but it was not as a pretentious philosopher or professional rhetorician that Paul appeared before the Corinthians (1Co 2:1-5). Some who followed Apollos may have been guilty of a fancy for external show, though Apollos was not a mere performer and juggler with words. But the Alexandrian method as in Philo did run to dialectic subtleties and luxuriant rhetoric (Lightfoot). Lest the cross of Christ should be made void [hina mē kenōthēi ho stauros tou Christou]. Negative purpose [hina mē] with first aorist passive subjunctive, effective aorist, of [kenoō], old verb from [kenos], to make empty. In Paul’s preaching the Cross of Christ is the central theme. Hence Paul did not fall into the snare of too much emphasis on baptism nor into too little on the death of Christ. “This expression shows clearly the stress which St. Paul laid on the death of Christ, not merely as a great moral spectacle, and so the crowning point of a life of self-renunciation, but as in itself the ordained instrument of salvation” (Lightfoot).

1:18 For the word of the cross [ho logos gar ho tou staurou]. Literally, “for the preaching (with which I am concerned as the opposite of wisdom of word in verse 17) that (repeated article [ho], almost demonstrative) of the cross.” “Through this incidental allusion to preaching St. Paul passes to a new subject. The discussions in the Corinthian Church are for a time forgotten, and he takes the opportunity of correcting his converts for their undue exaltation of human eloquence and wisdom” (Lightfoot). To them that are perishing [tois men apollumenois]. Dative of disadvantage (personal interest). Present middle participle is here timeless, those in the path to destruction (not annihilation. See 2Th 2:10). Cf. 2Co 4:3. Foolishness [mōria]. Folly. Old word from [mōros], foolish. In N.T. only in 1Co 1:18,21,23; 2:14; 3:19. But unto us which are being saved [tois sōzomenois hēmin]. Sharp contrast to those that are perishing and same construction with the articular participle. No reason for the change of pronouns in English. This present passive participle is again timeless. Salvation is described by Paul as a thing done in the past, “we were saved” (Ro 8:24), as a present state, “ye have been saved” (Ep 2:5), as a process, “ye are being saved” (1Co 15:2), as a future result, “thou shalt be saved” (Ro 10:9). The power of God [dunamis theou]. So in Ro 1:16. No other message has this dynamite of God (1Co 4:20). God’s power is shown in the preaching of the Cross of Christ through all the ages, now as always. No other preaching wins men and women from sin to holiness or can save them. The judgment of Paul here is the verdict of every soul winner through all time.

1:19 I will destroy [apolō]. Future active indicative of [apollumi]. Attic future for [apolesō]. Quotation from Isa 29:14 (LXX). The failure of worldly statesmanship in the presence of Assyrian invasion Paul applies to his argument with force. The wisdom of the wise is often folly, the understanding of the understanding is often rejected. There is such a thing as the ignorance of the learned, the wisdom of the simple-minded. God’s wisdom rises in the Cross sheer above human philosophizing which is still scoffing at the Cross of Christ, the consummation of God’s power.

1:20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? [Pou sophos; pou grammateus; pou sunzētētēs tou aiōnos toutou;]. Paul makes use of Isa 33:18 without exact quotation. The sudden retreat of Sennacherib with the annihilation of his officers. “On the tablet of Shalmaneser in the Assyrian Gallery of the British Museum there is a surprisingly exact picture of the scene described by Isaiah” (Robertson and Plummer). Note the absence of the Greek article in each of these rhetorical questions though the idea is clearly definite. Probably [sophos] refers to the Greek philosopher, [grammateus] to the Jewish scribe and [sunzētētēs] suits both the Greek and the Jewish disputant and doubter (Ac 6:9; 9:29; 17:18; 28:29). There is a note of triumph in these questions. The word [sunzētētēs] occurs here alone in the N.T. and elsewhere only in Ignatius, Eph. 18 quoting this passage, but the papyri give the verb [sunzēteō] for disputing (questioning together). Hath not God made foolish? [ouchi emōranen ho theos;]. Strong negative form with aorist active indicative difficult of precise translation, “Did not God make foolish?” The old verb [mōrainō] from [mōros], foolish, was to be foolish, to act foolish, then to prove one foolish as here or to make foolish as in Ro 1:22. In Mt 5:13; Lu 14:34 it is used of salt that is tasteless. World [kosmou]. Synonymous with [aiōn] (age), orderly arrangement, then the non-Christian cosmos.

1:21 Seeing that [epeidē]. Since [epei] and [] with explanatory [gar]. Through its wisdom [dia tēs sophias]. Article here as possessive. The two wisdoms contrasted. Knew not God [ouk egnō]. Failed to know, second aorist (effective) active indicative of [ginōskō], solemn dirge of doom on both Greek philosophy and Jewish theology that failed to know God. Has modern philosophy done better? There is today even a godless theology (Humanism). “Now that God’s wisdom has reduced the self-wise world to ignorance” (Findlay). Through the foolishness of the preaching [dia tēs mōrias tou kērugmatos]. Perhaps “proclamation” is the idea, for it is not [kēruxis], the act of heralding, but [kērugma], the message heralded or the proclamation as in verse 23. The metaphor is that of the herald proclaiming the approach of the king (Mt 3:1; 4:17). See also [kērugma] in 1Co 2:4; 2Ti 4:17. The proclamation of the Cross seemed foolishness to the wiseacres then (and now), but it is consummate wisdom, God’s wisdom and good-pleasure [eudokēsan]. The foolishness of preaching is not the preaching of foolishness. To save them that believe [sōsai tous pisteuontas]. This is the heart of God’s plan of redemption, the proclamation of salvation for all those who trust Jesus Christ on the basis of his death for sin on the Cross. The mystery-religions all offered salvation by initiation and ritual as the Pharisees did by ceremonialism. Christianity reaches the heart directly by trust in Christ as the Saviour. It is God’s wisdom.

1:22 Seeing that [epeidē]. Resumes from verse 21. The structure is not clear, but probably verses23, 24 form a sort of conclusion or apodosis to verse 22 the protasis. The resumptive, almost inferential, use of [de] like [alla] in the apodosis is not unusual. Ask for signs [sēmeia aitousin]. The Jews often came to Jesus asking for signs (Mt 12:38; 16:1; Joh 6:30). Seek after wisdom [sophian zētousin]. “The Jews claimed to possess the truth: the Greeks were seekers, speculators” (Vincent) as in Ac 17:23.

1:23 But we preach Christ crucified [hēmeis de kērussomen Christon estaurōmenon]. Grammatically stated as a partial result [de] of the folly of both Jews and Greeks, actually in sharp contrast. We proclaim, “we do not discuss or dispute” (Lightfoot). Christ (Messiah) as crucified, as in 2:2; Ga 3:1, “not a sign-shower nor a philosopher” (Vincent). Perfect passive participle of [stauroō]. Stumbling-block [skandalon]. Papyri examples mean trap or snare which here tripped the Jews who wanted a conquering Messiah with a world empire, not a condemned and crucified one (Mt 27:42; Lu 24:21). Foolishness [mōrian]. Folly as shown by their conduct in Athens (Ac 17:32).

1:24 But to them that are called [autois de tois klētois]. Dative case, to the called themselves. Christ [Christon]. Accusative case repeated, object of [kērussomen], both the power of God [theou dunamin] and the wisdom of God [theou sophian]. No article, but made definite by the genitive. Christ crucified is God’s answer to both Jew and Greek and the answer is understood by those with open minds.

1:25 The foolishness of God [to mōron tou theou]. Abstract neuter singular with the article, the foolish act of God (the Cross as regarded by the world). Wiser than men [sophōteron tōn anthrōpōn]. Condensed comparison, wiser than the wisdom of men. Common Greek idiom (Mt 5:20; Joh 5:36) and quite forcible, brushes all men aside. The weakness of God [to asthenes tou theou]. Same idiom here, the weak act of God, as men think, is stronger [ischuroteron]. The Cross seemed God’s defeat. It is conquering the world and is the mightiest force on earth.

1:26 Behold [blepete]. Same form for imperative present active plural and indicative. Either makes sense as in Joh 5:39 [eraunate] and 14:1 [pisteuete]. Calling [klēsin]. The act of calling by God, based not on the external condition of those called [klētoi], verse 2), but on God’s sovereign love. It is a clinching illustration of Paul’s argument, an argumentum ad hominen. How that [hoti]. Explanatory apposition to [klēsin]. After the flesh [kata sarka]. According to the standards of the flesh and to be used not only with [sophoi] (wise, philosophers), but also [dunatoi] (men of dignity and power), [eugeneis] (noble, high birth), the three claims to aristocracy (culture, power, birth). Are called. Not in the Greek, but probably to be supplied from the idea in [klēsin].

1:27 God chose [exelexato ho theos]. First aorist middle of [eklegō], old verb to pick out, to choose, the middle for oneself. It expands the idea in [klēsin] (verse 26). Three times this solemn verb occurs here with the purpose stated each time. Twice the same purpose is expressed, that he might put to shame [hina kataischunēi], first aorist active subjunctive with [hina] of old verb [kataischunō], perfective use of [kata]. The purpose in the third example is that he might bring to naught [hina katargēsēi], make idle, [argos], rare in old Greek, but frequent in Paul). The contrast is complete in each paradox: the foolish things [ta mōra], the wild men [tous sophous]; the weak things [ta asthenē], the strong things [ta ischura]; the things that are not [ta mē onta], and that are despised [ta exouthenēmena], considered nothing, perfect passive participle of [exoutheneō], the things that are [ta onta]. It is a studied piece of rhetoric and powerfully put.

1:29 That no flesh should glory before God [hopōs mē kauchēsētai pāsa sarx enōpion tou theou]. This is the further purpose expressed by [hopōs] for variety and appeals to God’s ultimate choice in all three instances. The first aorist middle of the old verb [kauchaomai], to boast, brings out sharply that not a single boast is to be made. The papyri give numerous examples of [enōpion] as a preposition in the vernacular, from adjective [en-ōpios], in the eye of God. One should turn to 2Co 4:7 for Paul’s further statement about our having this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.

1:30 Of him [ex autou]. Out of God. He chose you. In Christ Jesus [en Christōi Iēsou]. In the sphere of Christ Jesus the choice was made. This is God’s wisdom. Who was made unto us wisdom from God [hos egenēthē sophia hēmin apo theou]. Note [egenēthē], became (first aorist passive and indicative), not [ēn], was, the Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection. Christ is the wisdom of God (Co 2:2f.) “both righteousness and sanctification and redemption” [dikaiosunē te kai hagiasmos kai apolutrōsis], as is made plain by the use of [te—kai—kai]. The three words [dikaiosunē, hagiasmos, apolutrōsis] are thus shown to be an epexegesis of [sophia] (Lightfoot). All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ Jesus. We are made righteous, holy, and redeemed in Christ Jesus. Redemption comes here last for emphasis though the foundation of the other two. In Ro 1:17 we see clearly Paul’s idea of the God kind of righteousness [dikaiosunē] in Christ. In Ro 3:24 we have Paul’s conception of redemption [apolutrōsis], setting free as a ransomed slave) in Christ. In Ro 6:19 we have Paul’s notion of holiness or sanctification [hagiasmos] in Christ. These great theological terms will call for full discussion in Romans, but they must not be overlooked here. See also Ac 10:35; 24:25; 1Th 4:3-7; 1Co 1:2.

1:31 That [hina]. Probably ellipse [genētai] to be supplied) as is common in Paul’s Epistles (2Th 2:3; 2Co 8:13; Ga 1:20; 2:9; Ro 4:16; 13:1; 15:3). Some explain the imperative [kauchasthō] as an anacoluthon. The shortened quotation is from Jer 9:24. Deissmann notes the importance of these closing verses concerning the origin of Paul’s congregations from the lower classes in the large towns as “one of the most important historical witnesses to Primitive Christianity” (New Light on the N.T., p. 7; Light from the Ancient East, pp. 7, 14, 60, 142).

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