1 Corinthians 1

> Grace, lasciviousness, v. 3.
> God is good, therefore, separation of church and state represents separation of good from the state.. V. 3 grace and peace.
> v. 7. No NT passage will stand apart from an OT prophecy.
> V. 9, For me. My physical difficulties.. Also, pg. 22, just before v. 10.
> V. 13, mark of a false teacher, divide up the word of God. (pg 25)
> V. 14, 15, baptism (pg26)
> V.16, wisdom of this world, destroyed.
> V. 17 wisdom of God, wisdom of world. What is wisdom, 17b. (pg 33)
> V. 17, pg 31 No 'free thought.' Nor can there be today for God's people.
> v. 18, power of the gospel is to the called; to the elect only, not to the world. Pg34
> V. 19, foolishness to the world, is the applied principles of God's word.

This is at the heading of each chapter, and is extremely important to keep in mind. These people who Paul is writing to were well versed in the OT. They had been saved through studying the OT Scriptures, they had grown in Christ through these Scriptures, Christ had been formed in them through the OT Scriptures. Therefore, everything that is presented here MUST be taken in the context of the OT. We cannot over emphasize this fact. We cannot read these NT books with the idea that the people had any NT book yet. Every thing must be taken in the context of the OT.

The church at Corinth was the most carnal, or worldly church of its day. It sounds like a description of most churches of our day, with all the worldliness in them.

Because of Corinth's location in Greece, it became the trade center of the world. Wealth flowed like water. Luxury and amusements becomes the goal of life. The city religion was the worship of Venus, with 1,000 temple prostitutes used in the temples of this goddess of love.

The city is considered today as "the Paris of Antiquity," even though it was taken by Rome in 174 B.C. It was rebuilt by Caesar and regained much of its former magnificence, and with this it also returned to its former wickedness. Probably at the time of Paul (52 A.D.), it was a licentious as at any time in its past history of wickedness. This public acceptance of evil had its influence upon the church, far more than the church had an influence upon the wickedness. (See additional introduction at opening of 2 Corinthians.)

Paul is writing this letter out of necessity. Evidently these people had written him concerning marriage, 7:1-24. They were probably being taught that unmarried (denial of the 'flesh') was a higher and holier way of life. Other than being against the creation mandate, this view led to immorality being accepted (among other things).

Paul had received reports of several sins which were prevalent here. There were divisions, incest and the acceptance of worldliness by these Christians. The world had overtaken the church and no one seemed to care. Paul did and when he wrote this letter to answer their question, he hit the sins which had come to his attention.

Joseph Parker makes some very good points as he opens this book, pg. 159.

"We could hardly understand the composition of the Church at Corinth from the opening of this letter. Judging indeed by the salutation, one would suppose that the Church at Corinth was a model church, rich in knowledge, eloquent in utterance, generous in charity, quite an example to all churches. Yet it was as rotten a constitution as can be found in all the annals of history, everything that was bad was in the Church at Corinth; probably there has been nothing like it since; it was indeed a mystery of iniquity; yet it was the Church of God, and it is described as composed of men who were "called to be saints," and the men were recognized as those who called upon the name of Jesus Christ the living Saviour of the world. And even the Apostle Paul, whose righteousness was neither to be threatened nor bribed, said, "I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ." "

If one only read the first 9 verses of this Book, one would think that this was one of the best churches in the NT period. Here were praying souls and religious persons for whom the Apostle thanked God for every day. They were saints of our Lord Jesus Christ. They possessed the grace and peace from God our Father through Christ. They had all the gifts of the Spirit of God, all utterance and knowledge. They had the testimony of Christ confirmed in them. Paul fully expected them to be presented blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. They were promised the faithfulness of God the Father, by whom they were called into Christ.

But as we read on, we find that there was not a more wicked Church in the NT. Their conduct did not at all confirm what Paul said about them here in the first 9 verses. And this describes human nature perfectly. We are no better today than were these people to whom Paul writes. Which brings us to an interesting observation.

"We are judges of conduct: we are not judges of character. We say a man's conduct is very proper, very guarded, very admirable, is in many respects worthy of applause; and in so speaking we are speaking honestly and according to information, but we know nothing as to what we are talking about. Only God can judge souls. A man of bad conduct may be a good man." (Parker) And this Paul understood.

Peter is a good example of what we are saying. The account given in Mt. 26:33-35 (Mk. 14:27-31; Lk. 22:31-34; Jn. 13:37-38) shows us that Peter's character was greater than his conduct. In his soul he was determined to stand for the Lord, to the death if need be. When it came down to the conduct, he denied the Lord as though he had never seen Him.

Here was a man that, if he had time to think, he would no doubt have stood firm, but caught on the spur of the moment, he fell. When suddenly taken, suddenly tempted, he showed himself weak and foolish, and yielded himself easy prey to the destroyer. In fact, the Lord told Peter that He had prayed for him, or he would have done far worse, Lk. 22:31, 32. Satan was only allowed to go so far.

Peter's character was greater than his actions. Parker presents this question: "May a man be a drunkard, and yet be a Christian? What is a drunkard? Everything will depend upon the definition. We have not hesitated to lay down the doctrine that some men drink with the body, but not with the should. When a man drinks with his soul he is a drunkard, and I know not that there is any salvation for him; but when his intemperance is a mystery of the flesh, I leave him to God, speaking many a word of hope to him."

This is obviously Romans 7, and Paul's description of the war between the lust of the flesh and the desire of the new man, the Spirit of God. The soul, or spirit within the man desires to please God, yet this desire is overcome by the weakness of the flesh, or we could say, the power or desire of sin in the flesh.

Therefore, what do we have?

The 'drunkard' desires with his soul or spirit to drink. Is there salvation there? I think not.
The good man of Christian character desires with all that is in him to do right. His soul or spirit abhors the very idea of drinking, yet he drinks to drunkenness (applied to other areas also).

Romans 7:15-25. This man of Romans 7 had been bound in his spirit or soul, by the law of sin and death. The inner man at one time found pleasure and enjoyment as he worked out the desire for pleasure through the flesh. He enjoyed sin too much to care if that sin resulted in death.

V. 6 But now a problem has developed. The inner man has been converted (put to death through the death of Christ), and a new man now lives there, created in the image of Christ Jesus. Now, the new law is written in the heart. The inner man at one time enjoyed the violation of the law of God, now the new man hates that violation.

2 Cor. 5:17 describes the change of heart which took place within. He now loves the law of God and with all that is in him, and desires to follow it. But his flesh has been trained in sin. The lusts and desires have been appeased over the years. But the new man which has been created in the image of God, now hates the things which the old man enjoyed (and even still enjoys).

The attitude of the inner man has changed 180 degrees. Now the sin which the flesh follows after is not emanating from the inner man as it once did, rather it is the power of sin that is still in control of the flesh.

V. 15, 16 The new man delights in the law of God, but the flesh, still in the old habits, delights in sin. So there is now a war going on between the new man which delights in keeping the law of God, and the flesh which delights in continuing in its old habits.

The new man desires to keep the law of God, but the flesh follows the old habits. The new man consents that the law is good, and does its best to follow that which is good, and to flee that which is evil.

V. 17 - 23 the sin is not coming from the new man but from the old flesh and its evil habits. He desires with all that is in him to do good and flee evil, because that which is good, acceptable and pleasing to God is the new man's delight. But the habits of the flesh are too strong and overtake him.

The cry of v. 24 is for deliverance from the bondage of the flesh so that the flesh or body would serve the same law that the new man now desires to serve.

V. 25, he thanks God for the new nature which desires to serve God according to His law, even though the flesh is still in control much of the time.

Ch. 8 picks up and presents the victory over the flesh, the victory of Christ. This victory is applied and strengthened in the spirit, then expanded to the outside, bringing the flesh under control.

This brings us back to 1 Cor. 1:1-9.
"There is nothing that is bad that was not in the Church at Corinth. It was drunken, partisan, riotous, sensual, idolatrous, quite mad with an ungovernable excitement; and yet it was the Church of God."

If this does not describe us I do not know what does. We are no better than these people at Corinth.

We are hot for the Lord, and within an hour we are as cold as a dead fish. Like Peter, one moment we will swear our allegiance to the Lord to the death, then the heat is applied, we turn and run from him, denying we ever knew Him.
We will spend the morning in devotions and prayer and then the first person we see, we strike out at them.
"We pray half of the day, and curse the other half."
Our life for the Lord appears to be a life of moral contradictions. It would seem that we are His then we are not.
We serve our idols, we eat the unclean food.
We are controlled by lust and sensuality much of the time. If not lust for immorality, then lust for things which we have no business lusting after.
We are to be content with such things as we have, but we very seldom are.
Rather than overcoming the world, we are over come by the world. We are more worldly than Christ like. We desire to act, look, be identified with the world and accepted by them, far more than we desire to follow Christ and the law of God.
We fight among ourselves, make our parties, and justify our cliques.
We are selfish and idolatrous.
Our theology is corrupted, and we are asleep in our own world of sin while the world goes to the devil.
We use our liberty in Christ to justify sin, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.
We are weak and use anything and anyone we can to justify our indifference to God and His word.

And it seems that the One who was born in a stable must live in one most of our lives.

Every evil which we could and did describe was present here at Corinth. It was worse than any other church which Paul wrote to, and to human appearance, was no church at all. But the fact remains that here in these first nine verses, the great Apostle saw it as a Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

> The members were sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints.
> He thanked God daily for them.
> They were bold in their witnessing for the Lord, and the testimony of the Lord was confirmed in them.
> They were enriched by the Lord in their ability to speak (utterance), and their knowledge was second to none.
>They had all of the gifts which make up the body of Christ.

Psalms 69:5 O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.
Psalms 103:11-17.

There is an interesting statement in 2 Samuel 24:14. (David says that he would rather fall into the hands of the Lord than into the hands of man. Why? For the Lord knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are but dust. It is much better to fall into His hands, because men do not remember this.)

If you or I were writing this introduction to the Church at Corinth, or even if Paul as a man was writing this and not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we would probably start off by telling them how rotten they were and that they were probably not even saved. We would tell them they were doomed and give them the reasons why.

I am glad that this Church did not fall into the hands of man, because you and I would have no hope. Rather it fell into the hands of God here in these first nine verses of introduction, and we have hope even in the mess that we are in.

Sinners? Yes. But how do we regard that sin? When the desires and lusts of the flesh overpower us, are we grieved? Do we feel like dying? Do we want to crawl in a hole and hid until every one forgets about what we did. Does the inner man weep and cry out to God, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?

Or, does the inner man find pleasure in that sin? If so, there is a desperate problem with our salvation.

I know that it seems that I live in Romans 7 most of the time.

The true soul is the true man. If the soul or spirit finds pleasure in the things of the world and the lusts of the flesh, then the truth is that the inner man needs to be recreated in Christ Jesus.

But if that inner man is grieved when the lusts of the flesh win out, then the inner man needs to be strengthened in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The cause of the grief is found in Eph. 4:30. Grief.. to make sorrowful, to affect with sadness, to throw into sorrow. Webster's 1828 - The pain of mind occasioned by our own misconduct; sorrow or regret that we have done wrong.

Mt. 14:9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
Mt. 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

1 Thes. 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. Certainly, this is referring to sorrow and grief over the death of a loved one, but the application is sorrow and grief over the power of the flesh over the desire of the spirit to obey God. We should grieve over the weakness of the flesh, but not as one that has no hope. We have hope in the victory of Christ.

One more point here. Paul considers this group of people the Church of God in Christ Jesus. He complements them on the grace of God which is evident in them. I think we see this grace of God at work when we see the ease with which they repented. He wrote this first letter pointing out their worldliness and sin. His second letter is not at all like this first one, so evidently they repented and turned from their sin.

2 Cor. 2:2-5 and 2 Cor. 7:8-11 shows us that the purpose of Paul's first letter was to cause grief. He rejoiced that he did, because it led to repentance.

The Lord said to Peter in Jn. 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Peter's character was greater than his conduct.

And after I fail to live up to what is expected of me by the word of God as a Christian, this thought also runs through my mind. "Do you love Me? If you do keep my commandments." But my actions would appear quite the opposite of my words.

The one who finds pleasure in the things of the world and the lusts of the flesh, and they are not stricken with grief over their lack of control of the flesh, they had better be concerned about whether they are a new creation in Christ or not.

I will have to admit, I love the beat of country music and the 'golden oldies' which we grew up with (even the old blues which I stayed up many of nights with doing my math. I still remember the station, WLAC, Cincinnati 1, Ohio). Once in a while, I will listen to those things which still appeal so much to that fleshly appetite which was developed over the years. But, I am stricken with grief when I do. This is what Paul is talking about in Romans ch. 7.

The ones who find themselves captive to the desires of the flesh and are grieved over their captivity, it is a good sign that it is the Holy Spirit in them that is grieved. Paul, in this Book of 1 Corinthians shows us the results of that sin controlling the flesh, and what to do about it.

Paul calls these, saints and he thanks God for them daily. He also gives many books of instruction of how to be strengthened in the spirit so that the flesh does not control us. Even though the spirit delights in pleasing God, if we live after the desires of the flesh, we will die an early death.

This Church was as bad as any today, yet he called them the church of God which is at Corinth, which is sancitifed in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.

We who have trusted Christ as our saviour are also sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints. Let us strive to be worthy of that holy name whereby we are called.

V. 1. Paul opens this letter as he opens all of this letters (except Hebrews, if he wrote it), in his usual manner. He identifies himself as Paul. This was his new name given to him after his conversion. His name had been Saul, indicating his change in calling, personality, character, goal in life, and love after his conversion.

This is a good place to make a point.

Personality can, and many times must, change. Personality is changeable. "PERSONALITY is the sum total of what we are at any given moment." (Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, pg. 250.) It could also be identified as the way we respond in any given situation. By nature, the unsaved man will respond sinfully. By nature the saved man will desire to respond sinfully. But the redeemed individual knows that there is now a third factor involved, other than the trying situation and the individual's sinful nature.

That third factor is the Holy Spirit. He is not just a conveniences to have around, but He is the very power of the living God which effects in the people of God the personality of God. He is the One Who forms Christ and Christ's personality in the people of God. They have been changed at conversion, which is to be just what it says, conversion. Conversion from the old to the new, as Paul was. "They have been changed and may continue to change their personalities be the work of the Spirit."

Bad habits and personality traits are developed over a period of time, as we respond to situations is an unbiblical manner. Bad habits are changeable factors. A person may, and many times, must leave his bad habits and therefore, his bad personality traits behind him. This is done by forming new response patterns to the situations which arise. Instead of responding as the old sinful nature demands, we respond as the new nature requires of us and has been explained to us in the Word of God.

Through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, and the instructions of the word of God, new personality patterns can be established; patterns of patience, courtesy, consideration, and so on. New patterns and habits can be established if one is willing to obey God and work at it.

Now, the gifts and calling of God cannot be changed, for they are without repentance, Romans 11:29. This does not mean that we cannot misuse them and have them removed by the Lord. This does mean that we cannot chose what gifts we want, and we cannot choose the calling of God that we want. These are given to us as a gift from God and totally according to His will and plan for our lives.

In other words, the ability which we have cannot be exchanged to God for another one more pleasing to us. The calling of pastor, teacher, evangelist, etc, cannot be exchanged to Him for another. They are given to whom He will for the purpose according to His will and plan. They cannot be exchanged.

But our personality traits which are contrary to the principles of the revealed word of God, not only can be changed, but must be brought into conformity to those principles.

Can it be done? Of course! This was done in Saul's life, was it not?

Paul identifies himself, then makes a point of his authority to write this book. His authority was his call from the Lord Jesus Christ to be an apostle. He was not a self-appointed Apostle in a self-made office, but an office appointed to him by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Apostle of Jesus Christ.. Literally, a messenger, and then a missionary, or one sent to preach the gospel. He claims for himself divine, infallible authority for what he is about to say. (Hodges.)

Through the will of God.. Because of what Paul was going to say, he makes a point that he is acting, not under his own authority and abilities, but under the authority and abilities given to him by Jesus Christ Himself. And this authority was not of his choosing. It was thrust upon him, even over his own objection.
therefore, he felt this was his calling to go into evangelism.

He makes this point of his authority in all of his books, but maybe in a little different way, although in Galatians he does this even stronger, 1:1. This office was not of his choosing, nor of his own will. Probably the reason that Paul emphasized the calling of God, which is done solely according to His purpose, on the human side, is because of the way that the Lord called him. Paul was not looking for the Lord, yet the Lord called him. All of Ephesians 1 is extremely strong on this point. See Romans 9:16.

And this must hold true to every office and officer in the church. The office must be ordered by the Head of the Church in His word and its responsibilities defined. Then it bust be filled by the person appointed by the same Lord. Anything else will reduce the Church to little more than a business, with offices and elected officers. The name which these organizations go by is Not-For-Profit organizations.

Paul had a purpose in emphasizing his call by the Lord Jesus Christ, the founder of the Church, to a office ordered by the same Lord, the office of an Apostle. The purpose is evident in this book as it is in Galatians.

The purpose would be two-fold.
1. The false teachers in these churches would be trying to undermine his authority to write these letters of instruction.
2. He is going to name names and expose false teachers and their teachings in these books. This is especially true in the sense of these teachers presenting a false plan of salvation and their denial of the very basic principles of the Christian faith. These were Jewish teachers who made it a point to undermine the doctrine of justification by faith, plus nothing and minus nothing. It was hard for them to give up their false confidence in the law of Moses for salvation through the work of Christ.

Then we could add a third.
3. The going would become very difficult in the service of the Lord. He went all the way to a violent death for the cause of Christ. The calling and election had better be sure, or the confidence to stand fast in the Lord will not be present.

When the office is man-made, and the holder is man-appointed, it will not take much to force one to quit.

Although this office of Apostle is gone, the principle is the same. The servants of Christ, pastors, teachers, had better be there because the Lord God called them and really gave them no choice. Most of the calling today is like D.L. Moody's. Moody had an ability to gather people to himself and saw this as his calling to preach the gospel.

Sosthenes.. There is a man by this name in Acts 18:17, which is not sufficient proof that they are one and the same. It was a common practice of the Apostle to mention another person in his greeting or closing of a letter.

Sosthenes would be a 'nobody' in the worlds eyes, yet the great Apostle here identifies him as a brother. Two points:

First, it is the 'nobodies' in the world's eyes, it is the ones acting behind the scenes which support the ones who are the 'somebodies' in the public. Without people like Sosthenes who are willing to be a 'nobody' for the cause of the Lord, who are willing to work quietly, if no more than to be an encouragement and run errands, there would be no Pauls.

Second, I think it is worth noting that very seldom did Paul travel alone. Ecc. 4:9-12, which would be primarily talking of our spouse, but would include others. Paul usually had someone with him. This shows us the need to do the same. Two united together in a common goal for good and God, have more strength than one. Deut. 32:30. When it seems that the enemy is overwhelming, our best bet is to get someone to join with us, for the Lord Himself promised that where two or more are gathered together in His name, there is He in the midst of them.

Another point before we leave this first verse. Called (to be) saints.. We must hold to the same doctrine concerning the calling of God as what Paul does. We were not looking for Him, nor had any desire to come to Him when He 'found us.'

Every person is called. Of course, not every person is called to the same place in the body of Christ, but according to His good pleasure. As we mentioned above, this is Ephesians chapter 1.

I like what Parker says here: "There are no loose stones in God's quarry; every one is marked for a place: why should the stone that is marked for the base complain that it was not marked for the pinnacle? Why should the stone marked for the pinnacle complain that it always catches the high winds, and the first snow that falls coldly upon it? whereas it ought to have been hidden in the earth, where it would have been saved from many inconveniences and from all exposures. There is one Builder: let him put us where he pleases."

This is good. This is not talking only about the place in the body of Christ, or the church as we would think of it, such as Romans 12. This is referring to the talents and abilities given to us by God to make our living with. The Kingdom of God is everywhere and includes all the kingdoms of men and their activities. When men rebel against His Kingdom, judgment is sure.

God has given every person an unique ability to be used in His kingdom work, and every thing is His kingdom work. Art is part of His kingdom work. Math, science, architecture, medicine, agriculture, construction, every sphere of life which we can name which requires human activity is part of His kingdom work. Not just 'spreading the gospel,' but applying His word to everything.

Working in the Lord's service is not restricted to 'church work,' but includes selling insurance, running a bank, working on a road crew or in a steel mill. People work for the glory of God. God prospers them in what ever activity they have been given their abilities in. They are then to support the activities of the Kingdom of God, spreading the gospel (teaching salvation, baptizing the new converts and teaching them the total of God's word and its application so the Lord can bless them also), and financing all their needs as required by the law of God. This is His Kingdom Work.

"There are no lose stones in God's quarry.." I am reminded of the quarry pits down around Bedford and Bloomington Indiana. The stones are mined with a purpose, and that purpose is not to sit around the edge of the quarry and urge the workers on. They are not carved to sit on the sideline as an example of the skill of the carver, but to be placed into service. They are mined, and if fit, they are numbered, shaped and placed into service. In fact, as you drive past the pits down there, you will see many large stones sitting on the side of abandon pits. Evidently these are stones which were mined out of the quarry and found unfit for further service. There is nothing sadder as you drive by than to see those stones sitting there all alone with weeds and grass growing all around them.

Following the illustration on. The ones which are found fit and go on to be placed into service, in that service they are chipped, cracked and sometimes even broken. If they had remained at the pit, this would not have happened, but they would not have been any good to man or God.

The application is beautiful.

Isaiah 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. And the cross reference in my Bible is Mat. 6:33.

God digged us from the pit. He hewed us from the rock for one purpose only, to take our place in the kingdom of God and work. How many Christians are just like those abandon stones. They were digged out of the pit, refused to be used of the Master so they have been abandon to weeds and decay.

But we have been numbered in His ledger, we are in the process of being carved for His use, in the place where He would have us to be. He is the Master builder, placing us where it pleases Him. Paul deals with this very thing in 1 Cor. 3.

Many times God's people think that He digged them from the pit, carved them beautifully, then means for them to sit around the edge and look pretty. No! He digged them out, carved them into a beautiful shape to be placed into hard service. That service may result in chipped, cracked and even broken pieces, so bad that they must be replaced.


"There are no loose stones in God's quarry; everyone is marked for a place..." Have we found our place? Do we want to find our place? It is so much easier to sit on the side of the pit, but only discarded stones which are not fit for use, sit there. We have been given an agility, we are to use it to support the work of the kingdom of God. And the word of God explains the many different facets of that work, the family, church, occupation, education and so on.

We could have been left in the pit!!!

V. 2 Unto the church of God.. Then he identifies the particular church which he is addressing this to, which is at Corinth..

CHURCH, probably one of the more discusses words of the NT. Thayer: "a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assemble." This basic meaning is common in the OT to describe the people of God; Deut. 18:16, the assembly of the people of God; Deut. 23:1, the congregation of the Lord.

1. Acts 19:39, "an assembly of the people convened at the public place of council for the purpose of deliberating." (Thayer)

2. Judg. 21:8; 1 Chr. 29:1; Deut. 31:30; 32:1 "the assembly of the Israelites, esp. when gathered for sacred purposes." This is the usage in Acts 8:38; He. 2:12.

3. Acts 19:32, 41, "any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance or tumultuously." (Thayer)

Now to give Hodges breakdown:

4. "Sometimes it means the whole number of God's people, as when it is said, Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, Ehp. 5:25."

5. "Sometimes it means the people of God as a class, as when Paul said, he persecuted the church of God, Gal. 1:13."

6. "Sometimes it means the professing Christians of any one place,as when mention is made of the church in Jerusalem, Antioch, or Corinth.

Any number, however small, of professing Christians collectively considered may be called a church. Hence we hear of the church in the house of Philemon, and in the house of Aquila and Peiscilla, Rom. 16:5. It is called the church of God, because it belongs to him. He selects and calls its members, and, according to Acts, 20, 28, it is his, because he has bought it with his blood."

The conclusion here would be that the church of God consists of any and all who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and who have been called out of the world, and not necessarily united in a local body. Although, Heb. 10:25 makes it clear that the called out ones of the Lord will meet in a local public assembly. There has been a great amount of persecution in the past (and still is in some places) because of the Christian's determined effort to follow this command.

Another comment on this opening statement of the Apostle here is that he calls this group of people a church, even though they were corrupt in their doctrine and sin was prevalent.

sanctified.. (0037 - to make.., render or declare sacred or holy, consecrate.)

First, this refers to all of the ones who have been set apart unto God in Christ Jesus, their sins are forgiven and they are set apart for salvation. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, Jude 1.

Second, 1 Tim. 4:5 it would refer to the objects or things which God has set aside for use in accord with His word.

Third, 1 Thes. 5:23; 1 Cor. 1:2 a work of the Lord on the inside of the individual, cleansing them of sin, to make them more fit for the Master's use. This is accomplished through the study of the Word of God, John 17:17; 8:32.

I think there is a point here worth mentioning. Salvation is on the Lord. He gives the desire to come to Him, and the faith to do so, thus setting His people apart from the world for Himself. Then He gives them the desire to search His word, study and follow that instruction. Through His word, He instructs them as to what to leave behind, and what to keep. Here again we are confronted with the fact that it is all of the Lord.

Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. And in its context, this is a very difficult process, because it takes all kind of things (all things, v. 28) to work this all out. The Lord places the desire to be like Christ in the heart, then each person is to work out their own salvation.

A thought in passing. Why does He not place the same desire for His word in the heart of all His people, thus sanctifying them all into the image of His Dear Son. This is a question we will never know the answer to until we see Him.

1 Cor. 1:2. The church is made up of all those who have been sanctified, called out of the world and into the kingdom of God. They are a new nation, called to be holy even as He is holy. Obviously, their inward holiness will vary according to the working of the Spirit in each one of them.

OH! how wonderful it would be if the Spirit would place a consuming desire in each heart to learn, know and do His word, thus be sanctified into the image of His dear Son.

V. 2 In Christ Jesus...
Notice how many references Paul makes to Christ Jesus in these 9 verses? He makes 9! with a reference to HIM in the one verse which does not contain the Name, v. 5. Paul makes it clear, all we have, all we are as children of God is only in Christ Jesus. Whatever we can name, sanctification, forgiveness, redemption, protection, supply, victory, peace, CALLING and whatever other 'creature' that can be named. It is all of Christ, who is our All in All.

As the song goes; "Wonderful name of Jesus!"

The unsaved pagan must say the same thing, but without the redemption and all of its benefits. He must say this by virtue of Christ's creative and sustaining power, He. 1:2, 3.

V. 2 called (to be) saints..
This indicates first, an inward setting apart for God and holiness. Second, an outward setting apart for Him and holiness.

1. Paul calls them saints, even though their actions do not make their sainthood obvious. The Spirit of God, in the word of God, identifies men according to their profession. If they claim to be believers in the finished work of Christ, they are called believers. If they claim to be the called of God, saints, that is how they are identified, though their faith and practice may be very corrupted.

a. It is a prerogative left only to the Great Judge to determine if people are saints or not.
b. The truth will not be revealed until that judgment. Until then, even the Spirit of God considers people to be what they claim to be. Now, of course, if they are not saved yet claim to be, this will not exempt Him from dealing with them now.
c. The obvious implication here is that groups of people who claim to be the called of God, through work of Jesus Christ, are to be considered as such, no matter what Church name they might go by.


2. 2 Timothy 1:9 notice who did and does the calling, the Spirit of God.
a. The calling was before the world began.
b. The calling is according to His own purpose and grace, not according to anything we have done or could do. God did not look down through history and say, "Boy, there is someone who will have great talents and abilities. I had better call him so he will not use those abilities for the devil."
c. Christ appeared that the call might take place.


3. Notice who did and does the calling, the Spirit of God. He identifies the purpose of their calling, called (to be) saints.
a. Rather than this call being a license to sin (under grace, not law), it places the called under great responsibility, 1 Thess. 4:7. It is a call to holiness, which is exactly what Paul is dealing with in this first letter to the saints here at Corinth. They were using their call as license to live like the world.


V. 2 ..call on the name of the Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hodges is worth quoting on this, because of the total misuse of Rom. 10:13.
To call upon the name of any one is to invoke his aid. It is properly used for religious invocation. Compare Acts 9, 14, 21, and 22, 16. Rom. 10, 12, 13. 2 Tim. 2, 22. To call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, is to invoke his aid as Christ, the Messiah predicted by the prophets, and as our almighty and sovereign possessor and ruler. It is in that sense Jesus is Lord. All power in heaven and earth has been committed unto him; and he died and rose again that he might be the Lord of the dead and of the living; that is, that he might acquire the peculiar right of possession in his people which arises from his having purchased them with his blood, To call upon the name of Jesus as Lord is therefore to worship him. It is to look to him for that help which God only can give. All Christians, therefore, are the worshippers of Christ. And every sincere worshipper of Christ is a true Christian. The phrase expresses not so much an individual act of invocation, as an habitual state of mind and its appropriate expression.

Thus, we see that Rom. 10:13 will not stand alone. To call on the name of the Lord:
1. "Invoke his aid as Christ, the Messiah predicted by the prophets."
2. To submit to Him "as our almighty and sovereign possessor and ruler."
3. To believe in or trust that He died and rose again that He might purchase His people with His blood.
4. It is to worship Him.
5. "It is to look to him for that help which God only can give."

V. 2 with all..
This is not a general epistle (written to all believers everywhere). 2 Cor. 1:1 would be a better definition of who this is addressed to. Although primarily addressed to the believers at Corinth and Achaia, it is for all believers of all ages.

V. 2. both theirs and ours.
With these words the Apostle seems to unite all believers everywhere under one Lord, one faith and one baptism; he unites under one common goal, to be holy as He is holy. He breaks down nationalities, personalities and pre-eminence in the Kingdom of God.

V. 3. Grace.. peace.
This is a much used phrase of Paul's. Every thing is bases upon the grace of God.

Grace would be defined as the favor of God, and must be understood in terms of 2 Timothy 1:9 (Eph. 1:11) and Phil. 2:13. Thus, grace would be the Spirit of the Most Holy God working in the heart and life of His creation, man. This working is not because man deserves it, but is in spite of his fallen nature. The Spirit works to accomplish the Divine will of the Father.

Here in 1 Cor. 1:4, grace speaks "of the gifts of knowledge and utterance conferred upon Christians," and is only used here is this sense. Although it does come from the root of the word, indicating the work of God in the individual. (Thayer, pg. 666.)

As we mentioned, this Church came behind in no gift. And Paul here points out that these gifts are the working of the Spirit of God. Because of the worldliness of this Church, obviously these gifts were given in spite of themselves.

As a side note, even though the word grace in James 4 is of the same root word (same number in Strong's), it has a slightly different meaning. This is worth looking at as we pass by.

James 4 talks about turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.

766- unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence. Thayer, pg.766

Mk. 7:22. Here Christ is saying that uncleanness proceeds from the heart. It is what comes out of the heart that defiles a man. Vs. 21, 22 lists these evils.
Jude 4; 1 Pet. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:2, 18, gluttony and venery. The passages in Peter and Jude speak of false teachers who persuade the covenant-people that it is permitted by the word of God to be involved in lasciviousness.
2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 4:19 (where the warning is for the Child of God not to follow in the ways of the Gentiles, the unsaved. Giving us the implication that the Christian can and does, as a result of temptation or false teaching [above], walk in lasciviousness, working all uncleanness with greediness.)
2 Pet. 2:7 (Lot's filthy conversation)
Romans 13:13, plural "wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females, etc."

Notice there are 10 references to lasciviousness. 4 are Paul's as he warns Christian's of the danger of following this wicked way.

Grace... 5485 1 Pet. 1:10 is the same word as is used in Jude 4, referring to "that kindness by which God bestows favors even upon the ill-deserving, and grants to simmers the pardon of their offenses, and bids them accept of eternal salvation through Christ. Eph. 2:5. 7 sq. (And many more passages. This grace is claimed by faith, and the faith to claim this grace is a gift of God.)

Both Peter and Jude warn the Christian of teachers claiming to be from God, who would corrupt the doctrine of saving grace to free the believer from the requirements of the law of God.

James 4 talks about turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. This is a result of a departure from the Biblical faith (Calvinism). Grace is the unmerited favor from God, which gives His elect the desire to do what is pleasing in His sight. It they are unsaved, He gives them the desire to come to Him. If they are saved, He gives them the desire to obey Him, His laws and precepts.

When this total dependance upon the work of God in the salvation of the elect is denied, the result is the corruption of the definition of grace. This corruption then leads to a redefinition of grace to mean freedom, Antinomianism. Man sees grace as God's unmerited favor, which it is, but sinful man desires to this grace of his own choosing. Whereas, grace is God's Spirit working to give him the desire to obey the law-word of God. And that working apart from any good in the individual.

Thus, these false teachers tell the unlearned that grace frees them from obedience to the law.

Therefore, anything godly which might be preformed in the heart and life of an individual must be a work of grace. It is God's unmerited favor in the sense that man can and will do NOTHING to deserve the Spirit of God working in him. All good (sanctification, adoption, justification - temporal, eternal, spiritual) is a work of God which is not merited by anything man may do. He gives both the desire to obey and the power to do so, through the work of Jesus Christ our Lord.

and peace..
Clearly, there is no peace with God without the work of grace in justification and sanctification.
Equally as clear, there is no peace with man or between men without the grace of God. Christ is the Prince of Peace, between man and God, between men and men and between nations.

All the money in the world can be spent on programs and plans, but they are all doomed to failure. Christ alone is the Prince of Peace.

Separation of Church and State!

V. 3. Grace.. Peace.. The power from above to do God's will. The peace that comes from knowing that we have free access to the Father, forgiveness of sins, and results in living peacefully with others.

"Grace in favour, and peace its fruits. The former includes all that is comprehended in the love of God as exercised towards sinners; and the latter all the benefits which flow from that love." Hodges.

All comes from God our Father, and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly, this identifies Jesus Christ 1. As equal with the Father. 2. As the only Mediator between the Father and His creation. If anyone approaches the Father, it will be through Jesus Christ. If anyone receives anything from the Father, it will be through Jesus Christ.

V. 4. I thank my God... This is indeed a strange way to start a letter of rebuke and reproof, to a group of people who were as worldly as these. We would start the letter to this group with, I wonder why God...? It there is anything good to truthfully say about someone, this great Apostle will find it and complement them. We very seldom look past the surface for something to complement on, yet this complementing is as much a part of Christianity as is the rebuke, and sometimes will do more good.

He is not thanking God for them in general, but for specific things, identified as we go along. He is thanking God for the work of grace which is accomplished through Jesus Christ. This restricts what he is thanking God for, to only what is being done in and through Jesus Christ.

Even with all of the sin and shortcomings these people had, they were considered Christians, and had the working of the Holy Spirit within them.

V. 5. Now he identifies the workings of this the Spirit of Grace within them. In fact, he used the term, enriched by.. The Lord had richly bestowed these gifts upon them:

First, they had been enriched by him in all utterance. Parker- "They had their gift of eloquence, of expression." Their speech was beautiful and persuasive, as eloquent as any speaker could be. They knew the doctrine of God, including the doctrine of His grace. They had their teachers and prophets who could 'tickle the angles wings' as they expounded the doctrines of grace which they had been taught. And as these great teachers and expositors spoke, multitudes were persuaded to follow them.

Second, They had been enriched in all knowledge. This is an unusual statement in light of the purpose of this letter, which we will see seq. They had all knowledge of divine truth.

"The word translated utterance, may however be taken in the sense of doctrine, and the word translated knowledge, in the sense of insight. The meaning would them be, that the church in Corinth was richly endowed with divine truth, and with clear apprehension or understanding of the doctrines which they had been taught. They were second to no other church either as to doctrinal knowledge or spiritual discernment." Hodge

Third, v. 6. By the grace of God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, the testimony of Christ was confirmed in them. They were in Christ, and firmly established in Him.

Fourth, v. 7. They were behind no other church in no gift of the Spirit. They were in Christ, and the Apostle casts no doubt on this. In fact, just the opposite. He points to the supernatural working of the Spirit; speaking in tongues, healing, intrurperation of tongues, miracles, prophecy. They were enriched by him in these outward evidences of the working of the Spirit.

(Remember, this is before the destruction of Jerusalem, meaning that these supernatural workings were for a purpose. That purpose was to call attention to the fast-approaching judgment of God against the apostate Jewish nation.)

Fifth, v. 7. The working of the Spirit in them also caused an anxious expectation for the second coming of the Lord. This longing to see Christ has been a distinguishing mark of the redeemed every since He gave the promise of many mansions, and the promise to come back for them, John 14:1-6; Acts 1:11.

This return of Christ for His people, and the resulting resurrection of the dead, has been and is the glorious hope for His people, 1 Cor. 15:19; Tit. 2:13, etc. "So general was this expectation that Christians were characterized as those "who love his appearing," 2 Tin. 4,8, and as those "who wait for him," Heb. 9, 28." Hodge. The makeup of this statement indicates that the gifts which they had caused them to more earnestly look for the coming of the Lord.

used again below

I think that the point made here by Parker is important.

Nothing can be clearer than that the Apostles expected the Lord Jesus Christ almost immediately; and nothing is clearer to my mind than that Jesus Christ gave the impression that he was coming presently. But there is a genius of Biblical interpretation, as we have seen; the Bible does not use words in common ways. Generally it will be found that what is called the plain meaning is not the meaning at all… Beware of those persons who insist upon saying, Look at the words just as they stand there; simply accept the words as you find them. (This is typical of Darbyites, my note.) In a thousand instances that would destroy the Bible. The disciples were always mistaking Christs's meaning; so were the Jews: thus on every hand he was creating perplexity, bewilderment, and open hostility… Is there not a sense in which Jesus Christ is always coming?… Again and again we have seen strong delusions sent upon kings and councilors and warriors, until the Lord carried out some programme that would otherwise have been impossible of execution, without such rending and destruction of nations as could not have been borne… [Preaching through the Bible, Joseph Parker, 1959 reprint, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids 6, Michigan, vol 26, pp 166, 167.]

Notice, Parker drops the hint and carries it through, that the coming of Christ has been over the years in different manners, which I must agree with. Christ defiantly came, as He promised against the wicked city which slew Him, and He continually comes to interview in the affairs of men.

But, Parker goes on to say that the second coming may well be spiritual, rather than literal. Now, this I have a problem with, particularly in light of the passages mentioned above in John and 1 Cor. Clearly, the hope sense Christ has been His literal, visible return for His people.

The statement which Parker makes which caught my attention is, "Beware of those persons who insist upon saying, Look at the words just as they stand there; simply accept the words as you find them..." Such interpretation leads to gross misinterpretation. Scripture must be understood in the light of Scripture, particularly OT Scripture, 2 Peter 1:20 and Isa. 28:10. (Notice 2 Pet. 1:21! The implication is that NO NT PASSAGE [especially prophetic passages] WILL STAND APART FROM AN OT PROPHECY.) No passage will stand alone, and when seen in the light of other passages, very few will say what they appear to say in their 'literal' sense.

As Parker pointed out, Christ threw the Apostles and the religious leaders into confusion. He would speak clear, common words, yet the hearer could not understand what He meant by them. Then the Lord took His disciples aside and instructed them in private in order to clear their confusion. The religious leaders tried to follow the teachings of the Lord with their wisdom which they were so proud of, and confusion reigned. It took the instruction of the Lord to clear this confusion. Paul deals with this very thing in 2 Cor. 2:11-16.

This is consistent from Gen. through Revelation, with Gen. being the easiest and Revelation being the hardest. What appears to be taught is not, because the Word of God spoke in difficult sayings.

Sixth, v. 8, Paul promised them that God the Father, through His Spirit, will confirm them. He will keep them in Christ until the end. Here is the perseverance of the saints, accomplished by the Father. Those who the Father brings to Christ, will not be cast out, John 6:37.

The end could be the end of the world, end of the age, the end of their life, throughout eternity...

Seventh, v. 8. blameless.. This keeping of the Father of those in Christ, will also present them blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. All of the redeemed will stand before the Father blameless in Christ Jesus. He paid it all, and all the sins of the redeemed are under the Blood of Christ.

There seems to be a contradiction with what Paul tells these people in 2 Cor. 5:10, that every man will appear and answer for all the deeds done in the flesh. But we know that it is not a contradiction. It is one of those clearly spoken things, but which are above our knowing. We know that we will stand blameless, yet we will account for every deed done in the flesh on this earth. Apparently, these people forgot that!

Eighth, v. 9. God is faithful.. God is faithful to Himself, to His promises, to His Son. Notice it does not say, "You are faithful.." The work of God in their (our) lives depended on the faithfulness of God, not on the faithfulness of the people. We are called by or according to His faithfulness to his Son. Thank God for that. His calling doesn't depend on me being faithful to Him., but on Jesus being faithful to Him and He is...Ge. 2:17. (Really, depends on the Father being faithful to the covenant made between the Two before time began.)

I love what Parker says on this passage, pg. 169. "If you wonder how the miracle is to be accomplished, the answer is "God will do it"; if you ask how you, so far gone in all evil, are to be brought home and made secure, the answer is, God will do it all--"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.""

As we read the OT, which is an account of God working in human history, we find emphasized on every page, God is faithful. This should burn in our hearts, God is faithful, God is faithful, God is faithful. No matter what the difficulty or danger in which we find ourselves, no matter what responsibilities we find our selves in, no matter what is required of us, God is faithful.

I think that it is significant that the only other place that this phrase is used is in 1 Cor. 10:13, There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Temptation, 3986 (Thayar). the trial of man's fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, etc.: 1 Pe. 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; also an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from outward circumstances, Lk. 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.; 1 Co. 10:13;.. adversity, affliction, trouble, sent by God and serving to test or prove one's faith, holiness, character: Jas. 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 1 Pet. 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: V. 7, That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: ... temptation arising from bodily infirmity, Gal.4:14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

faithful 4103. of God, abiding by his promises, 1 Thess. 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. 2TH 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. (See all of 2 Thes. ch. 3.) 2TH 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. 2TH 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. HEB 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) HEB 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 2TI 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. 1JO 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Escape, 1545. an egress, way out: applied fig. to the way of escape from temptation into which one... 1 Co. 10:13.

(The above are only a few of the proof passages.)

The phrase the Lord is faithful is used in 2 Thess. 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. which is along this same line of thought. As is 1 John 1:9, he is faithful in His forgiveness of sin.

What is here for us?
1. Temptation is not just the desire to sin, it includes any test of Christian character. It is any offer (temptation) to fail to live up to our profession of being a Child of God. No matter what circumstance comes upon us, will we continue faithful to our calling in Christ Jesus? will we remain faithful, holy and consistent?

Temptation, as in Paul's case, may also include physical infirmities, as well as trials and problems. These physical infirmities tempt us to not do or be what we should for the Kingdom of God.

Whether physical or spiritual (or family), these temptations are designed for the glory of God. The benefit for us is that our faithfulness to Him in the midst of the difficulties and infirmities brings glory to Him. And we see that this glory may not be shown until we stand before Him.

"I sure don't see how this is bringing glory to God!" As we remain faithful to Him and to our calling in Him, this even now redounds to His glory, 2 Cor. 4:15. But even if it doesn't now, it will then.

2. The faithfulness of God assures us that nothing will be allowed into our lives to tempt us to compromise, which cannot be overcome by the power of the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

3. There will always be a way provided to overcome or escape that offer to compromise our profession and calling in Him.

4. All 3 times which this is used, God is faithful, the Lord is faithful is in reference to His faithfulness in providing the way for His people to remain faithful in their profession and calling in Christ Jesus. 2 Thess. 3:3-5 The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. Our standing in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation is dependant upon the faithfulness of the Lord.

Now, who does He work in? Those He called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

1. 1 Cor. 7:25, Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. it is the mercy of the Lord that keeps us faithful.

2. 1 Cor. 10:13, it is the faithfulness of the Lord that prevents our being destroyed by temptation.

3. 1 Thes. 5:23, 24 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (Brethren, pray for us.)
3:12, 13 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. It is the faithfulness of the Lord that develops the fruit of the Spirit in us.

4. 2 Tim. 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. It is His faithfulness that keeps us.

5. Heb. 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. His faithfulness makes reconciliation for the sins of the people.

6. Heb. 10:23, Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) (Thus, the context calls on His people to be faithful to their profession.) 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. His faithfulness keeps His promise.

7. 1 Jn. 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness., His faithfulness provides forgiveness to the repentant.

8. Rev. 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Also 3:4; 19:11. The Book of the Revelation emphasizes the faithfulness of Christ. This is contrasted with the faithlessness of man.

9. 1 Cor. 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The verse we are looking at here points to the fact that it is the faithfulness of God the Father to the promise which He made to the Son that called us.

Notice Rev. 17:14. Those with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Once again we are confronted with the fact that it is all of the Lord. If anything good develops in any person, it is the Lord which develops it, Romans 8:30. We have already seen from Ephesians 1 that it is all of God, for His purpose and according to His will. And no one can say, "What doest Thou?" Job 9:12; Dan. 4:35; Rom. 9:20

(See my personal note here for 4/18/91. It will preach and is in Divo file.)

Another point before we leave this verse, God is faithful. This opening passage goes totally contrary to human wisdom and understanding. How could the gospel, which is foolish in the eyes of fallen man, be the power of God which changes people (as well as the world)?

If wining the lost and claiming the world for Christ depended on the wisdom of men, then when a wiser man came along, the world would be won to him.
If wining the lost and perfecting the saints depended upon the wisdom of men, my effects would be useless. And all would be hopeless.

But it doesn't. It all depends upon the faithfulness of God to His word, to Himself. His promise is that His word is the power to change everything from the heart of the individual out. Our hope lies in GOD'S FAITHFULNESS TO THIS PROMISE.

Notice that one of His names is faithful, God is faithful. Paul tells these Corinthian Christians that their only requirement is to be faithful also, 4:2. As we are faithful over the things which have been intrusted into our care, God will be faithful to His word. (Things like, His word, the gospel, talents and abilities which He has given to us, material goods, and an endless list of attributes here that have been intrusted into our care.)

For me, 5/9/91: Ph. 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (If I teach this, be sure to see my notes in the FOR ME file, [locked].)

V. 10. Now Paul gets down to business. I like what Parker says here. "Here is a lesson in tactics.. Sometimes we would do better with the people if we went with flowers in our hand, and with the sweet presentation dropped the word in hard instruction. There is a genius in the use of compliments, The wrestler lifts up his opponent that he may thrown him down..."

Paul has lifted them up with complements, now he is about to throw them down and pin them to the mat. And he is going to follow his own advice in all of this, but speaking the truth in love, 16:24.

We would do well to learn from this great man as he writes under the power of the Holy Spirit. If we want to be an aid to the weak and fallen, we must not stomp them into the ground. But then, we cannot ignore their sin. We need to tell them of and show them our love, then we will have their ear to instruct them. This proper balance is difficult to obtain, but must be if we expect to be effective in working with people.

We are inclined to go to far in either direction. We either spend all our effort pointing out sin, or telling how good they are.

Also, Paul would not have been in the habit of lying to get someone's ear. So if we cannot honestly say good about someone, we had best keep quite. But if Paul could find good to say about these people, we can about those we know, if we will look.

The first, and probably the primary problem, was divisions among the people. These divisions evidently were brought about by false teachers who used winning words to attract followers to themselves.

The word divisions here reads schisms in the margin. 4978-a cleft, rent. A rent garment, Mt. 9:16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
a division, dissension, Jn. 7:43 So there was a division among the people because of him.

Evidently, this was not an open warfare between two factions, but just simple divisions or sects. Maybe as mild as different opinions about the things of the Lord. As we see in the next verse, it involved one group regarding a particular man higher than did another group. They were spiting the church over hairs. Which person had the most authority.

Notice that Paul pleads instead of rails upon them! He pleads with them, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful service and unity is for Christ's sake, not for the leaders sake.

We are living in a day, probably not unlike every period of church history since Christ, when the faithful service and unity is to or around a man, a leader in the church. People are faithful because they have been motivated to support a man.

Paul stands against this here, reminding them that their unity and purpose is around Christ. How many churches have fallen apart because the man left? This makes it obvious that their unity and service was for a man.

This has probably been one of my pet peeves over the years. My goal is to teach the word of God in a way that the Holy Spirit will give the people the desire to be faithful to Christ. Paul is calling this church to unity and agreement because of Christ.

.. in the same mind and in the same judgment. "The unity which Paul desired was a union in faith and love." Hodges. I do not think that he is calling on them to lay aside their individuality, and become as robots. V. 12 explains the division, therefore, what this call to unity is.

It is a separation from following Christ, to following men. These men were powerful men in the words of the world's philosophies. They had persuaded these people to follow them. This church was divided up into at least 4 divisions. Paul tells them to do away with those divisions and unite under Christ.

Knowing what little I do about people today, I would say that these for divisions were 'doing' what service they were doing, because of these four. We'll see this in v. 12.

V. 11. Paul was not just taking a shot in the dark in v. 10. He had heard of the divisions from them of Chloe. He tells them that he has evidence of what they are doing. He calls names and gives the source of his information. It was as though he had been reading their mail.

V. 12. Whoever brought him the report, brought details also. The person named names, and identified the 4 sects within this church, which would be made up of Jews and Gentiles. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and Peter (Cephas) to the Jews. Apollos was a distinguished, cultured, eloquent Alexandrian Jew, Acts 18:24. The highly educated of this church probably followed him. (Hodges)

The Judaizers would have objected to Paul, saying that he was not an apostle. The followers of Apollos would have objected to him because he was not eloquent of speech.

Then the group who claimed Christ. Because of what Paul is saying, we know that this would have to be some corruption of Christ, or Paul would have told them to unite with this group. Instead, he told them all to abandon their groups and unite under the Lord Jesus Christ. (Remember, there was no NT at this time. So Paul is going to tell them what to unite under, and how to unite.)

We also know from his further instruction, there was quite a bit of pride involved. We know from ch. 13 (and other places) that this group under the name of Christ, was claiming some kind of special relationship and revelation from Christ. The result is that they looked down on the others whom they judged did not have this relationship equal to theirs.

V. 13. Is Christ divided? This brings up a very interesting point. Christ, the Word of God, incarnate in the flesh. Paul here at the start, strikes a death-blow against any and all efforts to divide the word of God in any way, even into the Old and New Testament. (Parker heads this verse, PARTY SPIRIT.)

I received a letter the other day (I do not remember who it was from), that made the point that their church emphases the teachings of Paul. We gather from v. 12 that this is similar to what Paul is dealing with here. This group said that they were followers of Paul, they emphasized the teachings of Paul. (This pastor from whom I received the letter would have been in trouble in the NT church time. There were no teachings of Paul to follow. All they had was the OT. And these people and Churches claim to be NT churches!)

I think there is an important point in this. I fellowship with a group of pastors who consider the Local Church the actual body of Christ. They even mock and make fun of any teaching that the Church is universal, or made up of all believers in Christ. There are some (not that I know personally) who even go as far as to say that if others do not believe as they do, they are not a member of the Church. This is sometimes called "Baptist Bride." Is it any wonder that the cross has been separated from society? "Culture without humility, culture without a cross shadowing it, what is it but selfishness, vanity, idolatry?" (Parker)

"We are not the Church, else a poor Church it were!.. The Church of God is within; an invisible, spiritual, ideal germ: an outline shaped in clouds, and yet to be realized as it were in the granite and rocks of eternity." (Parker)

No man has a corner on the Truth. Each person has a different insight into the word of God, and to cut ourselves off from other Christians cuts us off from that portion of truth they have been given. Each has his own view of Salvation, of worship, of service. He has his own way of explaining the Gospel, his own delight in the Gospel, and his own way of praising God. All of which, of course, must be centered in the redemption and sovereignty of the Lord. But God deals with individuals, not with groups. We use the term "Personal Lord and Saviour." If we meant that, we would accept others based on their personal testimony, not on what group they have joined, or even their actions.

As we pointed out at the opening of this chapter, Paul accepted these people based upon their personal testimony, then he told them what areas to clean up as a Christian.

"You have not heard the Gospel if you have only heard one man preach it. The Gospel is infinitely larger than any one man's little brain... Otherwise only one writer would have been required to write the Bible." (Parker)

If Paul was all that was needed for the Gospel, we would only have his letters. The same could be said about every author of the Bible. But this will not stand. The Lord had to use many men to present the many-sided view of Himself and His workings among His creation.

As Parker points out: Is justification by faith? Yes. Is justification by works? Yes. Is predestination taught in the Bible? Yes. Is free will taught in the Bible? Certainly. We must study in the proportion of faith which we have been given, and we must study all Scripture. Some minds can only be approached from an intellectual, doctrinal line. These need philosophies, theologies, high speculation and debates. "Blessed be God, such minds are few in number." Others can only be reached through sympathy and love. They need a lot of both. Others can only be reached by selfish motives. They must be guaranteed heaven or eternal hell. Let us not limit the grace of God.

This is a difficult one for me. Because of the way I was dealt with by the Spirit of God, I am extremely tempted to fit everyone into my mold, strong emotional experience and all. The only thing we can be confident of is that the seeking person must hear and understand about the redemptive work of Christ.

A pastor friend said that he asked Jesus into his heart before he even heard about the substitutionary death of Christ. On the other hand, another pastor friend makes the substitutionary death of Christ clear, but believes that one is saved when they get baptized. He believes that this is when the person places their trust in Christ. Now, Scripturally, the second pasotr is straighter than the first. I would be more inclined to believe the second over the first.

We must accept people on their personal testimony of having trusted in the substitutionary work of Christ, regardless of how or why they did that. They are a member of the Body of Christ, thus His Church, based upon their faith in what He did for them. Then He is the One Who works in them according to His good pleasure.

Another good point: "The man of one view always has an advantage over the broad-minded man." The person who knows one book thoroughly will be a formidable opponent of one who knows 100 books not as well. Likewise, the man who has one idea of theology down; he will tie the one who tries to be all-inclusive in knots.

And this I will have to agree on. My dogmatism on the one point of Salvation (must hear, understand, and trust in the completed work of Christ), has tied many up in knots who have an expanded view of this. The result is to see the Holy Spirit work to strip away the false hope of many.

In other words, a person with one view of God, burning with that view, will get far more accomplished for the Lord, than the one who has many wishy-washy views of God. This is why the Mormons and JWs are growing. They have one corrupted view of God, and they are hard to counter in that one area. They will not even listen to another view.

Another point; Notice that Paul, instead of emphasizing the differences here among these people and trying to correct them, he calls them back to the center, the Cross of Christ. This alone can be our standard of judging others. What is their relation to the Cross and the obedience to the Man of the Cross? How much of self had been put away from them?

But as we see in Vs. 12, 13, even Christ can become a party within a party. Here we see the danger of emphasizing one doctrine in of Scripture over another. To do so, divides Christ. He was crucified according to the total of Scriptures, from Gen through Rev. When we chose one man or position, we come close to dividing the One crucified Christ. How many have we heard say, "I believe and follow the words that are in red!" This is to divide Christ. More than likely folks like these (including the Paulites), desire to do something that is clearly condemned in other passages and that isn't clearly condemned by the 'words in red.'

The fallen nature would be proud that folks would follow a person who is following the Lord, or that is following us as a teacher or preacher. But Paul is very sad, critical and upset. He verbally chastises them for doing such a thing. The source of all instruction is all the word of God, not just a few passages. Paul said, "Is Christ divided?" (Else where he did tell his readers to follow him, as he followed Christ. But he is not forming a party.)

Now, follow the implication on through. The emphasizes on one author, or one book, or one part of the Scriptures, by a teacher at the exclusion of another, is a mark of a false teacher. This party followed Paul. They did not deny Christ or that the OT was the word of God. They did single out the teachings of Paul as their primary source of instruction. Paul identified them as causers of contentions. He told them they were a cause of divisions, schisms.

Thus, to emphasize the Pauline Epistles over and above the rest of the word of God, is to divide Christ, the Word of God. This practice is condemned here by Paul himself.

Certainly, a teacher may be more of an 'expert' in one part of the Scriptures than in another, and emphasize that area, but he will not exalt that area over another by excluding the others as unimportant. All Scripture is given of God, therefore, is equal in authority and importance.

To see the Scriptures in any other way is to divide Christ. God deliver us from such heresy.

We might mention that this boarders on saying that "I am of Calvin," or "I am of Luther," or "I am of Westly," even though these men never meant it to be so. It is a shame that the word of God and its doctrines have been so divided that we must use a man's name to identify what we believe. Sad to say, those who say today that they are just a Christian are usually trying to cover up what they really are, because they do not want to discourage others from uniting with them. "We are non-denominational," usually is a phrase that means danger.

The Apostle Paul here stands against doing this
Then the Apostle gives two uniting factors in his argument against making parties.

The first: Crucified. Christ redeemed us, not the man we might be following. Second: Baptized. It is into the body and name of Christ we are baptized. Thus, our unity is to one faith and one baptism, Christ.

V. 14, 15.
Strangely enough, Paul thanks the Lord that, in His divine providence, the Lord prevented him from baptizing more than these named. The reason? His enemies would accuse him of seeking followers after himself, rather than after the Lord.

Many things which would appear at the present to be failures, may well be God's divine providence protecting us.

This also bears a closer look. Baptism, though important, is not all important. It is a fact, but a small fact when compared to the cross of Christ. I have noticed a better 'fellowship' with groups who fellowship around the cross, than with groups who fellowship around baptism. This schism was using baptism as a dividing line. The Apostle points them to the Cross of Christ. This is the only place where controversy can be settled.

V. 16. Household.. Hodge's points out that under the OT covenant, when a man converted to Judaism, his whole household was circumcised (remember Abraham). This practice was brought over into the NT with baptism. When the head of the house was converted, the whole house was baptized. This is not the time to go into the argument against infant baptism.

I know not.. The Apostles wrote free from error, not free from the restrictions of their memory.

Another point before we leave this. The strength of the Church lies in its unity. Divisions rob it of its strength.

Evidently these people were involved in high, noble (Parker) debates. They were using the wisdom of words to gather followers, rather than the message of the cross.

Parker makes a very good point which we should refer to. "There are people who think they are not sectarian because they do not belong to any particular communion. They are always the greatest sectarians of all. There are persons who say they have no creed, no theology: generally they are the most narrow-minded of pedants... Have no faith in those people who want to be regarded simply as brethren, Christians, saints, and to deprive themselves of all the little comforts and conveniences arising from classification and qualification. We are still human; we need definition, for definition is sometimes an assistance and a strengthening of our best nature." (vol 26, p 173)

[It is interesting to note that Joseph Parker lived 1830-1902. This was during the rise of Darbyism and the Plymouth Brethren. This group, the forerunner of Scofieldism, calmed to be closer to God because they did not belong to any denomination. They looked down on all who did. This statement by Parker would be a direct shot at the growing movement of Darbyites.]

Being classified by Church thought, denominationalism, need not be sectarianism. In fact, those who claim "No creed but Christ," are many times the most devicive. "If you are not with us, you are against us."

Our unity must come from the message of the Cross. When this message is compromised, there must be a separation, Gal. 1:6-9; 2 John 10. Therefore, we find our unity in our common love of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in our opinions about other areas of doctrine. Our unity is based in Christ crucified and sovereign over His creation. In this unity there is great freedom and liberty, v. 17.

Another point that we mentioned above. Even joining under the name of Christ (The Church of Christ) is condemned by Paul. "Look at me: I am simply called Christ's; other men are called Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Presbyterians. All these names I adjure, and if you wish to know what I am I wish to e known simply by the name of Christ. The man who talks so is either a fool or a knave. If a man wants to be Christ's you will not hear him saying anything about it in any invidious spirit; he will not condemn other Christians that he may raise himself on a higher pedestal; he will recognize diversity, and show how possible it is to have unity in difference." (Parker, pg.174)

My! how we need unity around the Cross of the Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ.

pulled out May 17, 1994 for mailing.

V. 17. To me this verse begins the key discourse of this Book. There are a couple of things which need to be looked at here.

I. Paul's mission, to preach the gospel. The common thought on this would be that his message was restricted to the message of the cross; the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This would seem to be the meaning of the context of v. 18.

But before we jump to this conclusion to our own destruction, look at Acts 28:17-31. His message encompassed the whole of the hope of Israel, and the kingdom of God. His message includes the whole counsel of God, Acts 20:27.

His letter to the Galatians gives us his message to Israel, which was one of the reasons for his persecution by the Jews. Paul brought the ‘Gentiles' into the covenant made to Israel through Christ. The Jews did not like this at all.

In addition, his message concerning the kingdom of God included the total crown-rights of King Jesus. His message was clear that Christ was established upon the throne of His father David at the resurrection. His message also created hostility among the Jews who wanted a literal king and ruler to establish the kingdom of Israel to its former prominence that it had under David and Solomon.

I think that a point made by Joseph Parker is important to consider:

Nothing can be clearer than that the Apostles expected the Lord Jesus Christ almost immediately; and nothing is clearer to my mind than that Jesus Christ gave the impression that he was coming presently. But there is a genius of Biblical interpretation, as we have seen; the Bible does not use words in common ways. Generally it will be found that what is called the plain meaning is not the meaning at all… Beware of those persons who insist upon saying, Look at the words just as they stand there; simply accept the words as you find them. (This is typical of Darbyites, my note.) In a thousand instances that would destroy the Bible. The disciples were always mistaking Christs's meaning; so were the Jews: thus on every hand he was creating perplexity, bewilderment, and open hostility… Is there not a sense in which Jesus Christ is always coming?… Again and again we have seen strong delusions sent upon kings and councilors and warriors, until the Lord carried out some programme that would otherwise have been impossible of execution, without such rending and destruction of nations as could not have been borne… [Preaching through the Bible, Joseph Parker, 1959 reprint, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids 6, Michigan, vol 26, pp 166, 167.]

"Beware of those persons who insist upon saying, Look at the words just as they stand there; simply accept the words as you find them…" Such interpretation leads to gross misinterpretation. Scripture must be understood in the light of Scripture, particularly OT Scripture, 2 Peter 1:20 & Isa. 28:10. (Notice 2 Pet. 1:21! The implication is that NO NT PASSAGE [especially prophetic passages] WILL STAND APART FROM AN OT PROPHECY.) No passage will stand alone, and when seen in the light of other passages, very few will say what they appear to say in their ‘literal' sense.

As Parker pointed out, Christ threw the Apostles and the religious leaders into confusion. He would speak clear, common words, yet the hearer could not understand what He meant by them. Then the Lord took His disciples aside and instructed them in private to clear their confusion. The religious leaders tried to follow the teachings of the Lord with their wisdom which they were so proud of, and confusion reigned. It took the instruction of the Lord to clear this confusion. Paul deals with this very thing in 2 Cor. 2:11-16.

The message that Paul refers to here is far more than just the message of the cross as we would think of it. His words here must be taken within the total context of Paul's preaching. In fact, as this first Book is read, we will find references to things which he had already presented, but which would be outside of the bounds of "the cross of Christ." Chapter 15 would confirm this. (See my notes in ch. 2)

His message about the cross of Christ involved the power of the Gospel to free fallen man in every area of life from both the wisdom of this world and the power of the enemy.

One more thing about baptism. When Paul makes this statement, we see that it is clearly unscriptural to make baptism part of salvation. But, it is a dangerous act of disobedience to ignore it, Romans 6:1-6. [Hodge, p 17.]

II. Second, Paul's preaching was not with wisdom of words, 1 Cor 1:17. I think this is one of the more important points for our day. Evidently, one of the major errors which he was going against was the use of the world's wisdom to win people to the cause of Christ.

What would this wisdom of words be? It would involve several things.

1. One definition of wisdom of words is given by Clarke:

Here and in 1 Thes. i. 5, and in several other places, it seems to signify reason, or that mode of rhetorical argumentation so highly prized among the Greeks. The apostle was sent not to peruse this mode of conduct, but simply to announce the truth; to proclaim Christ crucified for the sin of the world; and to do this in the plainest and simplest manner possible, lest the numerous conversions which followed might be attributed to the power of the apostle's eloquence, and not to the demonstration of the Spirit of God. [Clarke's Commentary in 6 volumes, Abingdom-Cokesbury Press, ND, Vol VI, p 193, col 2.]

Thus wisdom of words refers to argument, or talking a person to Christ. We all must plead guilty to using wisdom of words: we talk and talk to destroy every argument of the sinner against the cross. Their arguments are destroyed, so they 'make a decision.' What did we do? We used the power of argument and wisdom to force them into a corner instead of presenting the truth and letting the Holy Spirit convict them.

Certainly, we must answer sincere questions of the sinner, but how much "soul-winning" today is simply arguing the sinner out of his excuses? With all of his excuses gone, we then press him to ‘make a decision.' Then we wonder why the "convert" does not stand when confronted with compromise.

Paul is so concerned about the influence of the wisdom of words in the Corinthian church that he spends the rest of 1 Cor chapter one on it, all of chapter two, some of chapter three, then he hits it every time he gets close enough when he deals with other situations. He probably spends more time against the tendency to use the wisdom of words than any other one area. So, obviously, the problem is not new to our day, nor is the solution.

I know that as for my experience, when I gave up arguing a person out of their false hope and just presented the simple gospel, then waited on the Holy Spirit to do the work, the ones who made the decision (for lack of a better term), have stood faithful since.

This message here against the world's wisdom is a message for all periods of time against what we have come to know as EASY BELIEVEISM.

2. There are a great many things involved here. We will look at them then try to tie the lose ends together.

In discussing the wisdom of the OT, Hastings says:

Philosophy proper had no existence, and could have none, among the Hebrews. A process of thought free from presuppositions was unknown to them. God and Divine revelation were accepted as fixed points. Accordingly, all that was aimed at was merely to penetrate deeper into the contents of what was given and to define it more precisely. Nor is the form of the Hokhma that of the school speech; it is popular. Its problems are not theoretical, but concern questions dealing with the practical wisdom of life or with godliness. [Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. IV, pg.924.]

In other words, the people of God were not left to observe and develop their own thought. Everything was viewed from a presupposed perspective, viz. the already established Word of God. Everything was to start and stop within the bounds imposed by His Word. There was no ‘free thought,' nor can there be today for God's people. All thoughts are to be brought into captivity to Christ, 2 Cor 10:5.

By what distinctive marks then can we recognize that a doctrine is theosophical? Now we know that there is a criterion which makes it possible for us, without risk of error, to distinguish between what is philosophical and what is religious. If a doctrine has been established by means of observation, induction and deduction, it is philosophical;… [Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 13 volumes, James Hastings, 1908, T.&T. Clark, 38 George Street, Edinburgh, Vol.12, pg. 304.]

Under Philosophy, Webster says:

Literally, the love of wisdom. But in modern acceptation, philosophy is a general term denoting an explanation of the reasons of things; or an investigation of the causes of all phenomena both of mind and of matter. When applied to any particular department of knowledge, it denotes the collection of general laws or principles under which all the subordinate phenomena or facts relating to that subject, are comprehended… [1828 edition.]

Hastings makes this interesting point under 6. Greek wisdom. Speaking of Socrates, Hastings points out that:

For him God alone was wise; and the man who claimed actual possession of wisdom was guilty of presumption, if not blasphemy… He described himself as ‘a lover of wisdom.' The wisdom he thus sought was essentially ethical: it turned on the principles of virtuous conduct. But with Socrates virtue was identical with knowledge. The enlightened understanding was… morally good character. [E of R.E, Hastings, vol 12, p 745. Obviously, the wisdom Paul spoke against in 1 Cor 1:17 is in control of the world of our day: virtue is seen as identical with knowledge. Long ago, the Lord promised to destroy the world's corrupt wisdom, Isa 29:14, 1 Cor 1:19.]

Hodge says concerning the wisdom of this world, 1 Cor 1:6:

…It is plain from this whole discussion, that by the wisdom of the world, Paul means that knowledge of God and divine things which men derive from reason… [An Exposition of the First Epistle To The Corinthians, by Charles Hodge, D.D., EM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1974 Reprint, p 33.]

Pursuing the word philosophy in Col. 2:8, Thayer says:

Love (and pursuit) of wisdom; used in the Grk. writ. of either zeal for or skill in any art or science, any branch of knowledge. a philosopher, one given to the pursuit of wisdom or learning; in a narrower sense, one who investigates and discusses the causes of things and the highest good: Acts 17:18. [#5386, p 655.]

Col. 2:4 warns against enticing words. V. 3 points out that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. 1:9 tells us that the true Christian wisdom is knowing God's will, and walking in it. Thus a person is to be brought to the saving knowledge of Christ and to walk in the ways of righteousness not with enticing words of men's wisdom, but with the plain truth of God's word. It is the Spirit that gives men the desire to follow the path of righteousness in response to the preached Word of God, Phil 2:13. Hodge, speaking on 1 Cor 1:17, not with wisdom of words, said:

1. Not with skilful discourse, that is, eloquence. 2. Or, not with philosophical discourse, that is, not in an abstract or speculative manner, so that the truth taught should be presented in a philosophical form… 3. The meaning may be, not with a discourse characterized by wisdom; that is, the contents of which was human wisdom, instead of truths revealed by God… The whole connection the apostle contrasts two kinds of wisdom. The one he describes as the wisdom of the world, the wisdom of men, or of the rulers of the world. By this he means human wisdom, that which has a human origin. This he pronounces to be folly, and declares it to be entirely inefficacious in the salvation of men. The other kind of wisdom, he calls the wisdom of God, i.e. derived from God; hidden wisdom, consisting in truths which human reason never could discover… [I Cor, ibid, pp 17, 18.]

Let us not forget, Paul is writing to the church at Corinth which was located in the heart of Greek culture and wisdom where argument and debate would have been a way of life. Therefore, Paul was presenting the gospel according to Divine revelation. The world's wisdom was presenting the gospel according to the development by observation.

A final point for consideration

In his comments on 1 Cor 2:5, Hodge makes this point concerning the wisdom of men:

That, i.e. in order that. The design of the apostle in acting as stated in the preceding verse, was that the faith of his hearers might not rest upon human reason, but on the testimony of God… He [Paul] might have exhibited the folly of idolatry, and the absurdity of pagan rites and ceremonies, and convinced them of the historical truth of Christianity. The conviction thus produced would be rational and important; but it would not be saving faith. Faith founded upon such evidence is merely speculative. The true foundation of faith, or rather, the foundation for true faith, is the power of God… A faith which is founded on the authority of the church, or upon arguments addressed to the understanding, or even on the moral power of the truth as it affects the natural conscience, such as Felix had, is unstable and inoperative… [Ibid, p. 32.]

A few conclusions:

First, "arguing" a sinner out of his false hope is not "soul winning." "Soul winning" is presenting the gospel, and the Spirit working in the heart of the sinner.f

Second, regardless of what many popular "Christian" teachers of our day say, knowledge obtained from human observation concerning life's events is not virtue. Genuine virtue results from the work of the Spirit of God in the life of the individual in response to the Word of God.

Third, faith founded upon irrefutable historical and physical evidence is not saving faith. There is a popular radio program (Josh McDowell) dedicated to confronting paganism with historical evidence concerning Christ. Paul clearly tells us that there is no saving, converting power in anything except confronting paganism with the clear gospel of Christ.

In Hodge's words:

4. The foundation of saving faith is not reason, i.e. not arguments addressed to the understanding, but the power of God as exerted with and by the truth upon the heart. [Ibid, p 33.]

It is foolish to the natural mind to say this, but it is time to forsake the wisdom of words and return to the power of God unto the salvation of sinners.

2 Tim 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come [is here] when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn [have turned] away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [worldly wisdom and arguements appealing to human understanding]. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry [by clinging to power of God, His Word in our confrontation of the sinner].

to here
Now, how about the ones who did not have the Divine revelation as Paul had, and as we now have recorded in the "NT?" They still had the OT to build on. The Book of Acts would give us an example. The first message that Peter preached (Acts 2) was firmly grounded in the OT. Stephen's message was also, ch. 7. Philip's was also, ch. 8. We would find this consistent as we follow all of the messages through. Christ, the Wisdom of God, came quoting the wisdom of God, the law.

Their messages which brought such powerful conviction upon the first hearers, were the OT Scriptures, developed and applied to Christ.

How were these Greek philosopher's developing and preaching the gospel in terms of the world's wisdom? I cannot answer this, other than to say that the world's wisdom is developed by observation, while the wisdom of God is developed by divine revelation.

Paul "was not banishing philosophy from the shcools, but from the pulpit. Let the dead bury the dead; but do not let them pretend to impart life." Hodge, pg.33.

Now, let's go back a little to the first couple of points, vs. 5, 6. Paul complemented them on their richness in all utterance, and in all knowledge. Paul also points out that these abilities are God given.

This raises a Question! How could a church this well versed in the doctrine, knowledge and insight of the word of God be led so far away from what they knew? In other words, everything that they were doing which Paul was about to rebuke them over, they knew better and may have even taught others against. In fact, 1 Cor. 9:27 would seem to indicate that they were teaching one thing (godliness) and living quite another (godlessness). So, why were they doing these things?

Speculation: According to what is given to us in this letter, here are some things which I think permitted this.

Apparently, they had permitted false teachers to have great influence. These men have extremely persuasive personalities and winning words. Their reasoning, though false, appeals to the natural man. The result was that they became dependant on the wisdom of the world which these men presented; on natural wisdom, talents and abilities; what we would call today, Psychology. These talents were then used to form parties or gather followers, v. 10-. V. 17, Paul points out that he gained his 'followers' without wisdom of the words.

This is the very first thing that Paul hits. The rest of chapter one, chapter two and a lot of chapter three are devoted to dealing with this problem. As we go on through this letter, we find that Paul hits against this 'worldly wisdom' of man every time he gets close enough.

2:4, 5 points out that this wisdom of man robs the gospel of its power. In other words, all of the doctrine can be straight as a string, the knowledge of all the wonderful and secret things of God can be there, the insight into the principles of God's word can be present, but if the dependance upon the Spirit is missing, the godly results of all this knowledge will be corruption.

I would suppose this most effectively describes Christianity today. There is knowledge running out of our ears, yet the power of God is missing. The power to change the individual, therefore society in general, is missing.

And how is that power of God lost? By what we are seeing so much of today, wisdom, insight and knowledge gained by observation, and not from God's word. What we see today is man observing what is around him and then maybe applying the word of God to it. This is especially true if the person is trying to gain the ear of the Christian crowd.

The wisdom of God is His word. Therefore, man is to begin with God and apply God's word to the situations around him.

Thus, we could identify the world's wisdom here in todays terms with Philosophy, Psychology and Psychiatry. The world's wisdom begins with man, man's experience and observation. From here it is developed and might even include God and Biblical principles. it may include argumentation, reasoning, and debate (as no doubt the Greeks enjoyed doing), but all will be from man's observations and abilities.

In contrast, we have Godly wisdom. This begins with God (His revelation to man) and expands to include everything, including man. Christian wisdom searches the word of God in any given area to find what God says in that area. Then it develops that area in terms of what the Lord says. Christian wisdom always starts with God's word, then builds as it develops that word.


As we follow Paul's instructions to the Corinthians on through, we will find that he emphases the plainness of speech which he used. (See 2 cor. 3:5-12). Thus, he presents the simple truth of God's word with which he tares down man's excuse (not with worldly observations and reasoning), and lets the Spirit of God do His work in the heart of the individual.

Godly wisdom will add further instruction from God's word to what had already been given, depending on God to give the increase, 1 Cor. 3:6-8.

I heard some one say that today we expect instant everything, including salvation. We expect to plant the seed (give the gospel), water it and go home rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us. All in a matter of 45 minutes or less.

I myself have argued many people into making a profession. I presented the "gospel," argued against their objections, and then urged them to pray the 'sinners prayer.' They did, then I never saw them again. I would say that this is exactly what Paul is speaking against.

Sense then I have been saved, and today, I present the gospel, answer their questions then leave them to think about it. The result is that all of the ones who make a profession now, follow through. Most stay faithful in a church, maybe not this one, but somewhere.

I think that we could also say that the knowledge or wisdom gained from observation (human wisdom), might arrive at identical conclusions as is presented in the word of God (in whom is hid all the treasures of wisdom), but one conclusion will have the power of God in it, the other the power of man.

17b. lest the cross... The gospel of the kingdom, presented from the philosophical viewpoint, loses its saving and changing power.

Let's look a little at Godly wisdom at this point.

I. What is wisdom?

A. It is the revealed word of God.

1. Written.

First and foremost, the wisdom of God is His written law, Deut. 4:6-8; Psa. 119:98; Prov. 2:6. Therefore, it is the law of God put into words and actions. One without the other is not wisdom.

Acts 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (Philip spake the OT Scriptures as he preached to them.)
Col. 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
2TI 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

2. The person of Christ.

Luke 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:
1CO 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Col. 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

B. It is the applied word of God, the actions of the people of God. Therefore, it is obvious for all to see.

LUK 7:35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
ACT 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest
report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this
Col. 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Of course, the OT Book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom. It is a practical application of the LAW-WORD OF GOD. Thus, human wisdom would be the practical application of human observation and experience.

C. Paul chastises the people of God because they could not, or would not apply the wisdom of God to practical situations.

1 Cor. 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

D. The true wisdom of God is imitated by the flesh, world and the devil.

Col. 2:23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Jam. 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

This is interesting here in James 3:13-17
First, God's wisdom is seen in the fruits of His Spirit, shown forth with meekness of spirit.
Second, the world's wisdom is seen in the works of the flesh. V. 14, the world's wisdom is first described as being in the heart, envy and strife. This is not on the outside, but does come out in confusion and every evil work. Thus, the world's wisdom may remain in the heart for some time before making itself known. Until then, the actions may appear to be Godly wisdom at work. The strife in v. 14, could be strife against God in the heart.

2PE 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were
eyewitnesses of his majesty.

II. Where does wisdom comes from?

A. From God as an act of free grace of a Sovereign God.

Luke 11:31 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. (Solomon obtained his wisdom from the Lord.)
Luke 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
1CO 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
I Cor. 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
EPH 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
2PE 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
JUD 1:25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

B. Therefore, wisdom can be hidden from man by the same God.

MAT 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
ROM 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,


III. Who has wisdom, or how is it obtained? (We are assuming that Godly wisdom is only given to the Godly, the child of God.)

A. Humility.

1 Cor. 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

B. Prayer.

COL 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
JAM 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.


IV. The wisdom of God is revealed through the elect, for a purpose.

Eph. 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,


V. The natural, fallen man (saved or unsaved) cannot grasp the wisdom of God.

ROM 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
I Cor. 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
I Cor. 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.


Notice that basically Paul here in 1 Cor. 1&2, is talking about wisdom concerning Salvation. This would be how the Lord works in redeeming His people. But, this also includes every action. The wisdom of God for life is the understood and applied word of God into every activity.

V. 18.
Just the plane teaching of the cross (the kingdom), appearers foolish to the unsaved. Evidently what these teachers were doing was trying to 'dress' this message up to make it more appealing to the intellectuals of Greek thought.

Paul says that even though the simple gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ was unappealing to the unsaved, it is the plane simple presentation of this message that has the power of God in it.

I am reminded of Josh McDowell's book, EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT. In his books he presents much evidence that the Lord is who He claimed, and the Bible is what it claims to be. He makes it clear that faith is based on facts which can be searched out and confirmed. "We believe in Christ because it is rational to believe in Him, not though it be irrational." pg. 4. Of course, he is arguing from his conversion experience, which is based on this kind of teaching, pg. 373, 374. He was confronted with so many facts that the met all of his arguments. Therefore, because he had no more arguments left, he decided to turn to Christ.

Sense then, he has become a very popular speaker to young people. (The book itself is not the problem. It does present good arguments. The problem is the basic premise of the book. That is, that with enough intelligent facts, one must make a "decision for Christ." The thought behind the book is the weighing of the evidence for and against the claims of the gospel. If the weight for is heavy enough, then the hearer is to accept Christ (ask jesus into his heart, in McDowell's words).

The fallacy in the whole situation is that salvation in reduced to an intellectual challenge and decision, made when all objections are met and there is no where to flee. (He has dedicated himself to meeting those objections.) He has reduced the gospel to an intellectual, man-centered decision. This thinking removes the power of God from the gospel, and is exactly what Paul is against.

To the mind that McDowell is trying to attract, the gospel is foolish. He is attempting to dress it up so that it doesn't appear so foolish. The result is many conversions based on the power of persuasive words.

(Now, this is not saying that none of the ones who respond to these persuade massages are saved. Only God knows what took place. All we know are the basic principles which are involved. One must hear and understand the substitutionary death of Christ, be drawn by the Spirit of God (John 6:44) and place their faith in Him and what He did in their place. We do know that such a message is foolishness to the natural man, but it contains the power of God.)


To the ones who are not the called, it is weak and foolish.
which are saved... See also Romans 1:16. This could get into the doctrine of election a little more than I care to at this point, Ephesians chapter 1.

God has His elect, chosen from before the foundation of the world. To the elect, the simple gospel of the cross of Christ is all that is needed to plant the seed which will allow the Holy Spirit to work in their heart, v. 21, 24. This simple message is the very power of God with which He chose to use to call His elect. They do not have to be argued with. The simple presentation of His word will enable the Spirit to start working, with the end result, their salvation.

This is interesting, and important. When this doctrine of election is forsaken, the natural result is that the 'soul-winner' feels it all now depends upon him. He must argue the prospect into a decision. This is where the Greek thought rises its ugly head. The idea of the world's wisdom which begins with man and man's experience and observation, argumentation, reasoning, and debate (as no doubt the Greeks enjoyed doing). But this person (the 'soul-winner') will feel that all depends upon his abilities as a debater.

God's wisdom begins with God's revelation of His plan of salvation, the simple message of the cross of Christ. The Spirit of God takes this simple message and works on the elect, breaking down all resistance bit by bit. The result is the conversion of the elect.

To the saved, the simple message of the cross (redemption) is the power of God. To the ones who deny the doctrine of Election, the simple message of the cross has no power in it. All depends on their abilities.

Which gives us another important point.
I have been taught that the power of God rests upon the person, and that this power is necessary to do anything great for God. 1 Cor. 1:18 tells us that the power of God rests upon the message, His word. The gospel of Christ (which could be summed up in Matt. 28:18-20) is what contains the power of God.

Once again, we have made the word and work of God, man-centered. How easy it is to fall into this trap. Now, the speaker should have a holy, pure life, but we know of too many instances where the power of God was present to convict the sinner of his ways, and the speaker was not even saved.

Notice the implications here. If Salvation depended on the eloquence of the speaker ('soul-winner'), obviously this would exclude many from even trying to win someone to the Lord. But, if Salvation depends on the Lord of heaven and earth, calling His elect through the simple message of the cross, any person can deliver this message. The power of God is in the message, not the person. It is heresy to say or believe that it is the power of God on the individual which convicts sinner. It is the faithful individual delivering the message of God. It is the message that contains the power of God, not the individual. This means that any person who will be obedient can see the power of God work in others.

It is apparent that God sees fit to use some more than others to demonstrate this power through, but that is His choice alone. That does not change what this most powerful of preachers, Paul, said. The clearly says that it is the message that contains the power of God, not the man. It is nothing but Greek humanism that makes the power of God, man-centered.

Another point: In the 1689 London Baptist Confession, Point 4, under Chapter 3, OF GOD'S DECREE, we have this. "These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeable designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. [2 Tim.ii. 19, John xiii. 18.]"

Therefore, all of the argument and oratorical ability in the world will not change this number which has been firmly fixed by God. To those not in this number, the simple message of the cross is foolish. To those in this number, it is wonderful and powerful. Keep in mind though, there is hard work, discipline, sacrifice, long hours and a lot of preaching and teaching involved in reaching these who are in this number, v. 21.

This is why Paul talks is 2:5 about the convert standing in the power of God rather than the wisdom of man. The person who is argued into a decision, stands in the wisdom of man. The one who is only presented the simple gospel is convicted by the Holy Spirit. The simple message is presented, and the speaker has to depend upon the Holy Spirit to convict and convert.

It makes me wonder about how many 'converts' today are standing in the wisdom of men. Persuasive words were used to sway them, with no regard for the calling of the Holy Spirit. I would venture to say that the vast majority of professed Christians are. As Arminianism has grown, so has the number of false professions. Arminianism emphases wisdom of words, which permits the removal of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Calvinism (a strong doctrine of election) requires the calling of the Holy Spirit in the heart, whereas, Arminianism only requires a willingness on the part of the 'seeker.' And that willingness many times only goes as far as being willing to pray.

This passage here in 1 Cor. is quite strong, and is based on the doctrine of election. Thus, it is the preaching of the cross that contains the power of God unto salvation to the elect of God, not the wisdom of men.

One last point before we leave this verse.

Let's consider a couple statements made by Parker here, then develop some things. "What is the sermon if it be not the text magnified, amplified, and in a sense illuminated?" (It is notable that one of the most famous preachers of our day has built one of the largest churches of all time on messages which, many times, do not even have a text of Scripture. Beware of such "preaching," for it is not the preaching that Paul is referring to here.

"The foolishness is not in the preaching as an art or practice; the foolishness is in the thing that is preached,-by the foolishness of the preaching of Christ, by the foolish way of proceeding, by setting up a Cross as the answer to human sin: such stupendous folly was never seen by man before,-that God should die, that God should make an atonement to himself, that God should through weakness find the way to power, and through distress and trouble infinite find the way to rest and peace. This is like the Lord's way of proceeding in everything. Given a certain set of circumstances to know how God will act, and we have to draw up the course of his action."

It is the foolishness of the message that the Apostle is referring to, not the method in which it is presented. Speaking so others can understand, explaining the Scriptures in a practical way for the period of time in which we live, this takes abilities and skill. But the message of the Word of God, the principles of His word applied to situations, is totally foolish to the world. It is this message presented in its simplicity which confounds the wise men of this world. "That answer is to simplistic."

Some of the principles which the world (the fallen nature) holds as foolish.

1. The answer to crime. A. Salvation, the creation of a new man. B. Eye for an eye, restitution. C. Life for a life. These three things would cure the high crime rate in a moment.

2. Patience. To the world (and the fallen nature), prayer, faithful obedience and waiting on the Lord is a waste of time. But in the wisdom of God, this is one of His major principles. To Him, a thousand years here on earth is but as a day. That does not mean that it is a day, but that time which means so much to us, has no meaning to Him. Patience means doing right and waiting for many generations if necessary, for the results to come to pass.

"God has a day to work in, and before the day ends his purpose will be completed in righteousness." God's day is not at all as we think of a day. We use a very applicable term, "The dawn of history." God's day started with ceratin, will end when all things are made new at the end of this age.

Wait, says God, but human nature says, "God has forgotten!"

3. Long-suffering, or suffering long. To the fallen man, this seems useless and foolish. Why suffer at all if we can strike back or flee from it?

4. The way up is down in the Lord's kingdom, Mat. 5. The way to get is to give.

There are thousands of principles outlined in the word of God from Gen to Rev. Every one go against the fallen nature. Therefore, to the world, these are extremely foolish, but to us, they are the power of God in action.

Our job as preachers is to take these foolish principles of Christ, apply them to every day situations, and depend upon the Holy Spirit to perform His work.

Let's go ahead and consider the rest of the passage in this light, then come back and consider it from another direction. Both are well within the context.

V. 19, 20.
All of the wisdom which the many different people of this world, even the ones who claim to be Christians, if that wisdom is not found in the Cross of Christ, and all that Cross speaks of, it will be destroyed.

Paul says, "Where are these people who feel that their wisdom has the answer? The wisdom of the applied law-word of God will sweep them aside, regardless of how foolish they consider it to be."

The word of God and its principles completely destroy (and contradict) the wisdom of this world. Men can accumulate all of the wisdom in the world into their computers, but the wisdom of God (applied law-word) will destroy it all, will bring it all to nothing.

His providence is a continual miracle. If we could see a battering-ram, and see the wall that was to be shaken down, we should begin a process of calculation-for we are all scribes-and say, The instrument is so large, and so energetic, and the momentum is calculable in mathematical terms: now proceed. This is not God's way. We see the thing to be shattered, but we do not see the energy that shatters it; but down goes the wall, a way goes the mighty rampart, the stubborn bastion-all down! Who did it? A breath from eternity. (Parker, pg. 191.)

The visible may be total confusion and turmoil. What we can see may appear totally hopeless, but our hope is not built on what we see. Our hope is in the invisible. Our hope is in what the Lord is doing behind the sciens. It is His invisible hand which is guiding history, AT ALL TIMES!, Pro. 16:33- The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord. This is one of the clearest and most fought against principles of Holy Writ. God raises up who He pleases, puts down who He pleases, and asks advice from no one. He even places the desire to work His plan for history, in the heart of the most ungodly, Rev. 17:17.

His word promises that all things are working for good to them that love Him and who are called accordig to His purpose. This we must continue to hold on to.

"All means all, and that's all it means." Therefore, everything we can think of fits within this ALL.

To the world, these things are foolish, but to us that are saved, these things are the very power of God.

1 Cor. 1:19. "This is not to be considered as the citation of any one particular passage of the Old Testament, so much as an appeal to a doctrine therein clearly revealed." Hodge

V. 19 does indeed present an interesting thought. This tells us that every thing which is built upon the wisdom of the world will be destroyed.
In other words, before the kingdom of God (the wisdom of God) can prevail, the wisdom of this world must fall. Undoubtedly, this is why we are seeing such chaos all around us in every area. The Lord is leaving those who are in rebellion against His wisdom, blind to the results of their rebellion, 2 Cor. 4:1-6. He is leaving them in their darkness so that the just reward of their rebellion might come upon them, destruction.

That is what is said here in 1 Cor. 1:19, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Primarily, Paul is talking of salvation, where the preaching of the cross is foolish to those who are not called. Whereas, the same 'foolish' message is the power of God to those who are called, 1 Cor. 1:24. But Paul's message cannot be restricted to the message of redemption as we would think of it (sins forgiven and going to heaven). We see from Acts 28:20-31 that his message included every aspect of the kingdom of God.

V. 20 As we mentioned, all of the wisdom of the world combined will change the fixed number of the redeemed which is established by God. God has destroyed that wisdom by the election of grace.

"This is a challenge to the wise of every class and of every nation to disprove what he had said." Hodge. The grace of God makes foolish all the wisdom of the world.

And I must add. The Arminians have taken this challenge as they have tried to explain away the doctrine of Election. But they must disregard a vast amount of Scripture to do so. The main doctrine which they must disregard is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The sinner cannot see himself as such without the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The sinner cannot come to Christ without the faith which is given by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit moves as He will, not as man will.

V. 21. The wisdom of God as seen in the cross, can only be known by Divine revelation, the Holy Spirit, through the word of God. And the method chosen by the Lord for the Holy Spirit to work through is the preaching of His word. God uses the message, not the method, nor the man; although both are required. God's power rests on His word. Again, we see Paul meeting the Greek thought of his day, head on. They saw the power to persuade men lying in the abilities of men.

Sad to say, that is exactly what we are seeing today. The persuasive powers of the man which draw people to him is mistaken for the power of God. (Many times the message contains very little of the Word.)

This is why men who are not even saved themselves can see people saved under their ministry. They present the truth of God's redemptive plan, and God honors His word. This IS NOT permission to live like the devil, as we hear of preachers doing.

This is also why we can see many respond to a perceived message when there is not even a salvation message in it. They responded to the wisdom and work of men.

As for me, I am sure glad that the power of God rests on His word, delivered in His method, because I would be in a fix if it depended upon my abilities.

It is not human reasoning and wisdom that teaches the world what they do not know and that they need to know, it is the preaching of the word of God.

A point that Hodge brings out here is,

In the wisdom of God, that is, although surrounded by the manifestations of the divine wisdom in creation and providence, man failed to attain any saving knowledge of God.

They were blind to the knowledge of God which is built into all of creation, Rom. 1:20. The reason for this blindness is found in v. 28. Their sin made them desire to not know God. The sinner has to force himself not to see God around him. It is the preaching of the gospel which God used to removes this blindness, 2 Cor. 4:1-6.

I think another application of this passage would be Ephesians 3:10. The wisdom of God is shown to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church. How could the righteous holy God restore His fallen creation into fellowship with Himself, and still remain Holy and Righteous? Through the work of Christ. The wisdom of God provided redemption when all hope appeared gone as the result of Adam's transgression. How is this wisdom made known? Through the preaching of the cross.

Another thing. The wise of the world seek salvation everywhere except the cross. They seek salvation through law (the state), through education, through science, through religious activity. The list goes on and on of what the natural man seeks salvation from his sin through. Anything except the power and victory of the preaching of the Cross of Christ. To the natural man, there is nothing more foolish than this simplistic message that Christ and the applied law of God (wisdom of God) has the answer to all of man's ills.

Another thing. The power and wisdom of God is shown in saving them that believe. This is not what we would consider as wisdom and power. As Christians, we would consider power as the power to put down the wicked with force. The world would consider power as power to enforce their will on others. But here we see that God considers power as the ability to give life to the dead in trespasses and sins.

The power of God is brought into play upon humans by the preaching of the cross. Preaching.. The public proclamation of the work of Christ, also the private proclamation such as Philip did, Acts 8:35.

Another point: For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God.. God, in His wisdom, chose not to reveal Himself to the wise of this world.

First, Psalms 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. The margin gives 1 Cor. 1:27 for the cross-reference.

Second, Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.. God is understood by faith, not by scientific inquiry or wisdom of this world.

All of this says that the Lord chose to reveal Himself to the 'foolish of this world,' or the foolish in the world's eyes. The reason for the Lord doing it like this is found in 1 Cor. 2:4, so that the Lord would receive the glory and not man.

A passage along this line which comes to my mind is Isaiah 29:9-24. There the learned have the words of the book sealed to them. The unlearned have it sealed.

Why? The learned are lifted up with pride, the unlearned say that they are not learned enough to understand.

Isaiah 29:10, the Lord hath poured out upon them the spirit of deep sleep. He must open the eyes. Who does He open the eyes of? V. 19, the meek, poor! (Whether learned or unlearned, Mat. 5:3-5. Understanding of the word of God is dependant upon our attitude toward the Lord and His word.) Why? To bring the terrible one to nought and to consume the scorner.

No matter how hard one might try in order to know God, the Father can only be understood through the wisdom of God, Mat. 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. And this is done through the foolishness of preaching: the proclamation of the word of God.

Thus, God is revealed by His Spirit to whom He pleases. This revelation is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. Sinful man has rejected the natural revelation of God, so the Spirit uses the preaching of the word of God.

Again, basically Paul is talking of Salvation, but this would include all aspects of God. He cannot be known apart from faith, and that faith is the gift of God, lest any man should boast. By faith we understand..

Foolishness of preaching.. What to the wise of this world would be more foolish than the preaching of the world of God. It would seem that God could be found through scientific inquiry, or human searching. But He has hidden Himself through these means. His work can be found, but His plan of redemption cannot. A researcher can find the handiwork of the Lord in the lab, but that will not save him.

Vs. 22, 23.
Paul identifies the two ways that the fallen nature seeks God. First, the Jews sought after a sign.

Mat. 12:39. Their motive was to tempt the Lord as they ask for a sign. The Lord identifies these sign-seekers as wicked, and tells them that the only sign was to be the sign of Jonah.

Mat. 16:1-4; Mk. 8:11, the same crowd, with a few added, came to Christ with the same motive, to tempt the Lord. Again the Lord identifies the sign-seekers as a wicked crowd, and the only sign will be the sign of Jonah.

Jn. 6:30 (time? probably between Mt. 12 and 16), His hearers said, "What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work." They went on to say the their fathers ate mana, bread from heaven. The Lord told them that that bread spoke of Him. This threw His hearers into confusion. The Lord gave the reason for that confusion; because they had not been given to Him by the Father. (Check Jn. 5:36-47.)

It is interesting that in Mt. 11:1-3, John the Baptist ask the Lord if He was the One. The Lord responded with the signs, or proof, vs. 4, 5.

What is the difference? The Jews asked tempting Him. They saw all that was taking place; they saw the feeding of the multitudes, the healing of the ill, the blind made to see and everything else that took place. Yet they asked for a sign. Why? Because the Messiah was not among them like they expected or wanted.

1 Cor.1:23, the stumbling-block.. "They had anticipated in the Messiah a glorious temporal prince, who should deliver and exalt their nation. To present to them one crucified as a malefactor as their Messiah, was the greatest possible insult." Hodge.

What are we saying? These Jews expected something which Christ did not deliver, a mighty temporal prince to set them above their enemies. Therefore, their request for a sign was based upon this expectation of this mighty prince. Any sign (or message) which did not fulfill this expectation was dismissed. They could and would not accept the Lord as He was, therefore, they were blinded to everything.

And how many miss the message of the word of God for this very reason? They want to hear a certain message and if they do not find that, they miss what is being said. This is especially true of the dispensational crowd. If they cannot confirm in their study of the word of God that Christ is going to come back and rule over the enemies of God with a rod of iron, and them with Him, they will ignore the message.

The Jews dismissed any message that did not have them reigning with the Lord here on this earth.

John, on the other hand, was operating by faith. He asked a sincere question, the Lord pointed him to His works, IN FULFILLMENT OF OT PROPHECY. John believed the law and the prophets. The ones who sought to tempt Christ misinterpreted both the law and the prophets for their own purpose. They were blind, John could see.

This brings up another interesting point. How many messages of Salvation (using this word loosely) have been tailored to the hearer? The airwaves are full of the 'message of Christ' which is designed to attract the skeptic, to attract ones who are seeking something for themselves, such as finances or healing, even to attract the ones who are looking for an escape from tribulation, troubles and trials.

Vs. 22, 23
Now the second thing which Paul identifies as ways that the fallen nature seeks God.

and the Greeks seek after wisdom.. They required a rational explanation of something before they would accept it. Then they would spend their time discussing these facts.

Romans 8:24-26 tells us that we are saved by hope. If a person must see a sign, or understand, before they will get saved, they cannot be saved. But, again, remember John. A sincere question asked in faith, will be answered. It is the questions which are asked in unbelief which upset the Lord.

We have already dealt with this wisdom. By faith we understand.. There are many today which seek to meet unbelief with facts. I did a mail-out on this, BLIND FAITH and FACTS.

Here we see that unbelief must be met with the simple, plain truth of God's word, Christ crucified. "This doctrine met the demands of neither class. It satisfied neither the expectations of the Jews, nor the requirements of the Greeks." Hodge

To the Jews, it was a stumbling-block. They did not expect a crucified Messiah. To the Greeks, it was foolishness. This doctrine did not meet their rational criteria. Freedom through the blood of the cross was beyond the comprehension of both the Jews (who sought freedom with the sword) and the Greeks (who sought freedom through education).

The preconceived notion of the Jews saw only the power of the sword as the means of conquering the world for a cause. The preconceived notion of the Greeks saw the power of education as the only means of winning the world, or controlling men. As the Christian faith is lost, both of these ideas gain strength.

Paul is working toward his statement in 2:4 & 5, which, to me, appears to be the peak statement of this whole exchange with this church.

Which gives us an interesting observation. These two thoughts control the church today.

1. The one is the necessity of a literal reign of the Messiah before the world can be subdued to the Kingdom of Christ. This robs Christianity of its power to change men and subdue kingdoms. The result of this preaching is the necessity of a literal, sword-wielding king do forcefully subdue all kingdoms and to prevent anarchy.

2. The other is the necessity of education in order to do anything or be anything. The increase of learning does not guarantee an increase in knowledge of the truth, 2 Timothy 3:7. This has completely taken control of the secular education establishment, and has almost the same control of the 'Christian education establishment.'

I have known people who felt that they had to gain a certain amount of education before they could do anything for God. Then they sat around and did nothing because they had not that education. Education is to make us more effective in our service for God, WHICH WE ARE ALREADY DOING. (See Isaiah 29:9-24 above.)

V. 24. To the ones who hope in a literal Messiah to subdue His enemies with the sword, the preaching of the cross is not seen as the power of God, even though we are clearly told here that it is.

To the ones who see salvation through education as the answer to our ills, the preaching of the cross is seen as foolishness, even though we are clearly told that it is the wisdom of God.

Are called.. This term always means the effectually called. Used in places such as Romans 1:7, 8:28; Jude 1: Rev. 17:14. (See Isaiah 48:12.) In Christ is found all wisdom and power, but this divine wisdom and power is only to the called.

In Christ is the power to change the individual, from the inside out, 2 Cor. 5:17. This subdues them to the King and His Kingdom laws. This subduing is done by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and makes the called desire to be holy as He is holy.

In Christ is the power to understand the wisdom of God, 1 Cor. 9-16. As we know, the Book of Proverbs is the book of wisdom, or the applied principles of God's law. (We already saw that the law is the wisdom of God.) The only ones who truly love, and are able to understand this law, thereby made truly wise, are the redeemed through the blood of the cross; the called according to his purpose.

As we mentioned above, only to them which are called is Christ the power and the wisdom of God. Therefore, Paul is fussing at these people who are the called for seeking after the world's wisdom and ways to reach others. V. 26. He reminds them that they know better, if from no other source except their own experience.

I would think that Paul would emphasis this wisdom of God more in this book because of what and who he is dealing with, and he does. He covers this very thoroughly in 1:17 to 2:16, a total of 31 verses in a row. This is a lot of space to devote to one subject, but he is meeting the Greek philosophy head-on, so this will be his emphases. He meets the Jewish objection to the message of the cross because of the Jewish influence, although it is not as strong as the Greek influence here. He strikes the middle ground, the cross, making it clear to both sides of the controversy, that this is where the power of God lies.

And these two teachings must be confronted today if we expect the power of God to be demonstrated. The world will be won by the preaching of the cross of Christ. The wisdom to meet every situation will be provided by the preaching of the cross of Christ.

One more point here. Notice who the message of Christ and His kingdom is directed to, the called. Why is it we direct, thus compromise, the message to the world's crowd. How many times have we heard, "We must reach the world?" Here we see that our concern is to reach the called. This would sure solve a lot of problems. The soul-willing effort is to reach the called, not the world. The power of the preaching of the cross is unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks.. Our responsibility is to faithfully present the gospel of the King and His Kingdom to everyone. The responsibility of the Spirit is to give power to this message.

Our goal, as was Paul's, is to convince and call the called to faith in Christ and to obedience to His word. Therefore, the words of our Lord in John 16:8-10 must be taken in the context of John ch. 10 AND this passage in 1 Cor. 1:24. The Spirit convicts the world of the called. Not the world in general. No doubt this is the reason the Book of John is attacked so hotly by the ones who want to deny the doctrine of the effectual call (ELECTION) of God.

Paul builds on this in 2:6 on. He points out that the simple gospel of the King and His Kingdom is presented, added to by following preachers and teachers, and finally brought to completion by the Holy Spirit. And this completed product in the sinner may not come to pass for many years.

Another point: There is a hint of something else which Paul is dealing with here, that is: the desire to see immediate results. Maybe not immediate results, but the desire to confine the working of the Holy Spirit within a set amount of time.

This would be a result of dependance on Greek, human wisdom, called Pragmatism. All human wisdom is pragmatic, that which works for now. Who cares about the long run? As long as we see the desired results now. I am glad that the farmer does not operate on this principle.

The Lord works on long range plans. He speaks of many generations. And we must learn to think the same.

V. 25.
The context suggests this: The message of the cross appears foolish and weak to the natural mind. But this apparent absurd and powerless message is wiser and stronger than all that men combined can put together.

In addition: Taken with v. 24, Christ is the wisdom and the power of God. The very best that men can do will be as foolishness in the wisdom of God; it will be nothing but weakness compared to Christ. In fact, there is no comparison between Christ and what men can muster together, Ps. 2. Any effort for eternal life is foolish without Christ. Any effect to overcome the power of evil (victory over things like drugs, etc.) is useless without Christ.

V. 26.
These people were greatly influenced by the Greek love for knowledge and reason. They were then using this method to try to win others for the Kingdom of Christ.

added, 5/14/91

They evidently had given up the proclamation of the plain word of God for a reason. The reason appears to be that they were trying to reach the rich and influential of the area. Human nature presses us to seek out the rich and famous. "Boy, if they would only get saved, think of all they could do for the work of God! They are mighty, they are important. If they would get saved, others would listen to them."

And those who would desire to be rich will be attracted to a large, influential church. It is good business practice.

James lays the same charge against the early church. First, he condemns the church for compromising its stand and the message of the word of God so they can attract the rich and influential, 2:1-9. Then he condemns the rich for the wicked means they used to gain their riches, 5:6.

Here in 1 Cor. 1 we see that Paul would drive them away from the church. He would allow them close only as the Spirit of God draws them. I think it is interesting that in Chapter 5, where Paul tells who should be removed from the Church, he lists the covetous, and the extortioners and the idolaters. This identifies three things for which James condemns the rich for. In this we see the danger to the individual in riches; we see the danger to the church in riches.

I know a man, Larry Lilly, who was formally the pastor of Charity Baptist Church in Avon IN. That church, under his direction, set out to attract the rich and important in the area. They did many things contrary to the word of God to do this, one of which was borrowing a tremendous amount of money. It all caught up with him.

Then on the other hand, we hear of Churches who emphasize the poor. Here with Paul and with James, we see that the emphasis must be on the preaching of the total of God's word. As the church is faithful in proclaiming the message of the kingdom of God, God will give the increase.

Once again, it comes back down to the power of the proclaimed word of God is upon the called according to His purpose. To change the message to attract any particular class or to keep any particular class of people, is to compromise the message and corrupt the church. As long as the message remains pure, the church will remain pure.

This church had fallen victim to this compromise. Paul calls them back to faithfulness in proclaiming the gospel, the whole counsel of God. Then they were to depend upon the Spirit of the Lord to give the increase. 1 Corinthians chapter 3 and 4 (4:2).

How many good men and churches have fallen victim to trying to reach a certain class of people, of trying to keep a certain class of people? They have compromised the message to do so, and the result is a powerless message.

Note that worldly wisdom would say, "Do whatever you need to do in order to attract or keep them!" Was this part of the wisdom that Paul was speaking against?

The wise... mighty.. noble.. The ones who are important in the eyes of men, those who are exalted by the anti-christ crowd, and held in high esteem: It is extremely difficult for these people to humble themselves to the message of the Cross and the Kingdom of God. The laws of this Kingdom go completely contrary to the high esteem placed upon these people. (See Mat. 5.) Therefore, this message must be compromised to attract this group of people. But, thanks be to God, as individuals, some are attracted. (I remember John Biler. A very rich man, yet as humble of a man as I have ever met. A godly man.)

It is impossible for this class of people to see that their wisdom is found in Christ, v. 30. But the Holy Spirit can show them, as He must show us all.

Added to here.

As we mentioned under v. 24, Paul tells them that they know better as he argues for the uselessness of human wisdom from their own experience with the gospel.

1. They know from their own conversion, that it was not the wisdom of this world which convicted them of their sins. It was the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. All they have to do is look around them at the ones who have been converted. There are not many wise men, or many mighty, or many noble that have been called by the Spirit into the Kingdom. By wise, he means wise in the world's eyes.

All they had to do was look around among the Christians which they knew. Count and compare; how many worldly wise, great in men's eyes, or those of the higher rank in society have been called by the Sovereign God? All these things which elevate men in the eyes of the world, how many of these people have been called to Christ?

The thought would seem to me to be something like this: "Why are you using these worldly ways to reach those you feel are important? All you have to do is stop and think. How many of these important people do you know of that have been called by God to Salvation? The power of God which brings salvation is the preaching of the cross."

For us:

1. There is no need to compromise the gospel to reach those we feel are important. If they are the called according to His purpose, the gospel of the cross is the power of God. If they are not, all of the argument in the world will not change them.

2. We can fully expect the world (those who are not the called according to His purpose) to mock and criticize the preaching of the cross. In fact, we can even expect them to work against this preaching, because to them it is foolish and has no power to do anything.

3. Those who stand against the preaching of the cross, are standing against the very power of God.

Vs. 27-29.
"You see the obvious," says the Apostle, "Now here is why it is like you see."

On one hand (above), God has not chosen the exalted in the natural sense. Now, on the other hand, He has chosen the ones who are looked down on by the ones who are exalted in the world's eyes. Why? The chosen are not chosen because they are NOT exalted, rather they are chosen in order to confound the wise. And all of this according to the grace of a sovereign God. He sheds His grace on whom He pleases, and withholds it from whom He pleases. And no one can say, "What doest thou?" Romans chapter 9.

the foolish things.. the weak things.. Those things which are looked down on by the great people of the world. The reason? To confound the ones who are great in their own eyes and in the eyes of the world. The Bible speaks of the Lord exalting the weak ones over the strong ones, Mat. 5.

The base things.. which are the opposite of noble, v. 26. despised.. which are of a low position in the eyes of the world. things which are not.. considered as nothing by the world. The reason the Lord chooses these? To bring to nought the things that are: All of the greatness of the world which the world depends on, is brought to nothing by the power of the preaching of the cross.

V. 29 is really the sum-total of the preceding verses and their reasoning.

What does the preacher make? The sermon, not the text . Why this suppression of human vanity? why this snubbing of the wise, the scribe, the disputer, the mighty, the noble? The reason is given in these words, "that no flesh should glory in his presence." The moment we begin to glory we begin to weaken. Self-consciousness lives upon its decease, and eats up its own vitals. Let a man live in himself, for himself, upon himself, and he will consume himself. Parker

Primarily, Paul is referring to Salvation. God calls to Himself those whom the world holds in complete disrespect. He chose to use these kind of people so That no flesh should glory in his presence.

This points us once again to the doctrine of Election and the sovereignty of God. No one chose to come to Him, He chose us to come to Him. Even the faith to come is a gift of God, Eph. 2:8, 9. To deny this doctrine would leave one open to glorying in His presence.

The Scriptures also speak of this in the sense of being used of God. He uses whom He will. This is confirmed in 4:7. The Lord specializes in using the ones with no natural ability, so that His ability will be obvious. The beautiful passage along this line for me is 2 Cor. 12:9-12. The weaker in the world's eyes (and self's), the more grace is needed to serve God.

All through this Book, Paul shows the necessity of the grace of God, as he counters the Greek and Jewish teaching. (Wisdom and sword.) As the Lord calls and uses the ones which are despised by the wisdom of the wise in the world, their wisdom and strength is shown to be useless.

I think a good illustration of this in our day is the education system. The 'wise' have plan after plan to set people free from poverty and evils of all kind which are destructive to themselves and to society. These plans are tried over and over, and the system continues to deteriorate. Yet for a few dollars, the Christian can turn out a far superior product which loves God and is free from all of the social ills which throws the ungodly into such a turmoil.

The Lord uses the foolish things in the world's eyes to bring to nothing all the plans and works of the world. This alone should show them the fallacy of their wisdom, but it doesn't. Why cannot they see it? They evidently are not the called according to His purpose.

Notice another point here. The Lord will bring to nothing all of the plans of the of the world which do not include Him. Those who are involved in those plans will face the destruction of the Lord as He does bring them to nothing.

This is too close to avoid, but it seems to be everywhere we look in the Word of God. This also stands hard against the so called "doctrine of Self-Esteem." Self esteem leads to the flesh glorying in His presence, in the presence of others, and in our own presence.

Vs. 30-31.
God the Father is the One who placed us in Christ. There is nothing about our Salvation or service which we can attribute to ourselves. Paul hits this point also in 1 Cor. 4:7. Any gifts and abilities which we might have is strictly of Him.

Apparently Paul is determined to make these two points clear. Our salvation is all of Him. Our service is all of Him. It is all of Him. All that we are, all that we have or hope to be, is of Him. He alone chooses who to save and who to use, and that choice is according to His good pleasure.

Now Paul touches on what Christ is for the Redeemed.

1. wisdom. He only is the true wisdom. He is the Revealer who alone has all wisdom. He, being the Divine Logos, has all wisdom in Himself. The word of God is the revelled wisdom of God. Only those who submit to His word are wise unto salvation.

2. righteousness, that which satisfies the demands of the law so that we might see God.

3. sanctification. His indwelling Spirit is the Spirit of Holiness. He works within to create a holy people for a Holy God.

4. redemption. Deliverance from evil. He delivers from the guilt, power and final results of sin, hell. As well as from the power of Satan. This day of redemption will come at the end of all things.

These things can only be obtained in Christ. These things are made available through Him by the grace and mercy of God.

V. 31
The reason that God made these things only available through Christ, is so that our confidence will only be in Him. This thought is persued all through this Book. One place is 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

Whatever we have, it has been provided to us by God. Therefore, all glorying must be in Him.