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Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament Schaff's NT Commentary
1 Corinthians 1
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ scn/ 1-corinthians-1.html. 1879-90.
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/
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Called to be an apostle, apparently when first called to discipleship (comp. Acts 26:16-18 with 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:18), though it was not till events put it beyond all doubt that his apostolic calling was publicly recognised. Some prefer to translate ‘a called apostle;’ but in the very next verse where we have the similar phrase, ‘called to be saints’ that rendering would be unsuitable.
Of Christ Jesus. Once for all we here note that what appears the true order of these words in this verse is the apostle’s usual style; though in such cases the MSS. vary so much that certainty is not always attainable.
Through the will of God. Not in contrast with ‘the false apostles’ referred to in 2 Corinthians 11:13; for the same phrase, and in the same connection, is found where no such contrast can be supposed (Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:1). Rather, it is to bring to the front at once that official authority which he had to exercise in disposing of the difficult and delicate questions about which the Corinthians had consulted him, and which required to be firmly dealt with.
and Sosthenes, our brother [ Gr. the brother]. Was this that ruler of the synagogue at Corinth who had dragged the apostle himself before Gallio the Roman proconsul, and who, when that official refused to meddle with the case, as beyond his jurisdiction, was set upon and roughly handled by the Jews even before the judgment-seat (Acts 18:12-17)? Some critics think this all but incredible. But since the name of this ‘brother’ occurs nowhere but in an Epistle addressed to these same Corinthians, as of one they were familiar with, and since it is often the most violent opposers of the truth who, when once won to it, become, like our apostle himself, its most zealous promoters, we cannot but judge that they are one and the same person. And was not the example of so notable a convert as ‘Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue,’ going before (Acts 18:8) fitted to make an impression on his successor in office? If we are right in our impression, this Sosthenes would be to our apostle, in a very tender sense, ‘a brother beloved.’
1 Corinthians 1:2. sanctified in Christ Jesus; through living union with the Fountain of Holiness in His Person.
Called to be saints; not in the mere external sense of Matthew 20:16, but ( as the word is always used in the Pauline Epistles) in that inward, efficacious, saving sense which invariably issues in the cordial reception of the Gospel message: as in Romans 8:30, ‘Whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.’
With all that call upon, or ‘invoke,’ the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. To get rid of the natural sense of these words, which holds forth our Lord Jesus Christ as an Object of worship, a passive sense has been put upon them, as if the meaning were who are called by the name of Christ; and we are referred to Acts 15:7 and James 2:7, where the sense is undoubtedly passive. But in these two places it is the connection which fixes the sense, whereas here, and in a multitude of other places, the middle sense of the verb ‘call’ (‘calling on’ or ‘invoking’) is plainly intended. See Acts 9:14; Acts 9:21; Acts 22:16; Rom 10:12-14 ; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 1:17. In the Old Testament the identical Hebrew phrase (as also in the LXX. Greek), ‘to call on the name of Jehovah,’ means, as every one knows, ‘to invoke’ or ‘worship Jehovah.’ When, then, we find a phrase already so familiar and so dear to devout Jewish ears transferred to Christians, defining them as ‘callers upon,’ ‘invokers,’ or ‘worshippers of’ Christ and this incorporated among the household words of the churches what can we conclude but that the first Christians were taught to regard their Master as the rightful Heir, in human flesh, of all the worship which the ancient Church had been trained jealously to render to Jehovah alone? Some critics think to evade this By saying that since this worship is always understood to be rendered “to the glory of God the Father” (as in Philippians 2:10), it is meant not of absolute but relative worship. But not to say that the New Testament knows nothing of two kinds of worship, the Question is not, In what relation does the Son stand to the Father in this worship? That relation is internal, Personal, and (to all created intelligence probably) unfathomable. But the one real question is, What is that worship itself? and if it is precisely what is peremptorily forbidden to be offered to any creature, the New Testament must be held to teach the proper Personal Divinity of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:3. Grace onto you and peace. What in the Old Testament is called ‘mercy,’ is in the New Testament expressed by the richer and more comprehensive term ‘grace,’ that Divine affection whence flows all salvation to Adam’s fallen family (Ephesians 2:10). The first result of this, when it enters any soul, is ‘peace.’ And here both these are solicited for the Corinthian converts, from God our Father as the primal Fountain, and the Lord Jesus as the mediatorial Channel of these precious rifts; and by coupling both Persons in one and the same invocation, their equality in the Godhead is brightly confirmed.
1 Corinthians 1:4. I thank my God always.. .for the grace . . . given you in Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2, “Sanctified in Christ Jesus”). But lest it should seem strange that a Church so rich in ‘grace’ should be so severely blamed as in the sequel of this Epistle, the apostle is careful to specify what he refers to namely, certain gifts which are all too compatible with a low-toned moral and spiritual character.
1 Corinthians 1:5. that in everything ye are enriched ... in all utterance (Gr. ‘word’), or aptitude to give utterance to divine truth.
And all knowledge, or apprehension of the truth (see 2 Corinthians 8:7; 2 Corinthians 11:6).
1 Corinthians 1:6. even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, by its marvellous transformation of one of the un likeliest communities (2 Corinthians 3:1-3).
1 Corinthians 1:7. so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The faith of His first coming, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and the hope of His second appearing without sin unto salvation to them that look for Him
these were the two wings on which Christians were taught to mount up as eagles in their spiritual life (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10).
1 Corinthians 1:8. who shall also confirm you unto the end. . . unreproveable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, the decisive day of His second coming (Romans 2:16; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
1 Corinthians 1:9. God is faithful, to do this ( Rom 8:30 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Philippians 1:6).
By whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ. Not into fellowship with Him, but into the participation of Him, in all His fulness (see Gr. of Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Hebrews 13:16).
These preliminaries disposed of, the Epistle now proceeds to deal successively with the topics which had called for it. The first topic occupies the four opening chapters.
The evil done by undue exaltation of preachers 10-17.
1 Corinthians 1:10. I beseech you... by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ a touching appeal at the outset’ to that Name which is above every name, not to let any other name eclipse it, by making it a rallying point around which to gather.
That there be no divisions among you (Gr. ‘ schisms’) not in the modern sense of that word, implying outward Church rupture, but in the sense rather of ‘schools’ of religious thought, feeling, or taste, occasioned by attaching undue importance, or giving undue prominence to particular truths, or particular ways of conceiving them, to peculiarities of the preacher, and such like.
That ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and . . . Judgment not as if all must view everything alike, but that all should look at Divine truth with that simplicity of mind and heart which would secure unbroken harmony amidst that diversity in the shades of thought and feeling which constitutional diversity and different training never fail to beget. This is that ‘like - mindedness’ which we find elsewhere commended, as in Romans 15:2, Philippians 2:2, and which, next to truth itself, is of priceless value, alike in churches, in families, and in all kinds of society.
1 Corinthians 1:11. For it hath been declared unto me ... by them... of Chloe members either of her family or of her household; she herself being otherwise unknown, though no doubt occupying a prominent position in the Church of Corinth.
That there are contentions among you the nature of which is next explained.
1 Corinthians 1:12. Now this I mean, that each one... saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas the Aramaic name given to Simon when first called (John 1:43), its Greek equivalent being Petros, both words meaning ‘rock,’ or ‘stone.’ Singularly enough, in the three other places of this Epistle where he is mentioned, this Aramaic form, ‘Cephas,’ is used ( 1Co 3:22 , 1 Corinthians 9:5, 1 Corinthians 15:5), not ‘Peter;’ and in Galatians also it is four times used (1 Corinthians 1:18, 1Co 2:9 ; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 2:14). and I of Christ.
Note. These few words have given rise in Germany to a prodigious deal of speculation, and been made the basis of a new theory even of Christianity itself, as well as of the date, objects, and credibility of several of the books of the New Testament. In combating these wild theories, great research, learning, and ability have been called forth. But, after all, the question, ‘What are the divisions here referred to?’ may be brought within very narrow limits. That’ Paul,’ ‘Apollos,’ ‘Cephas,’ and ‘Christ’ were meant to represent four distinct and conflicting Christianities is demonstrably false. First, as to ‘Paul’ and ‘Apollos,’ is it credible that he who said that even an angel from heaven would deserve to be accursed who should preach a different Gospel from his own (Galatians 1:8-9), and who to these very Corinthians denounced the corrupters of the Gospel as ‘ministers of Satan’ (2 Corinthians 11:2-4; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15), would say of Apollos that he only ‘watered’ what he himself had ‘sown’ at Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:6), and would hold him up as one of Christ’s gifts to the Church (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)? Apollos, too, had come to Corinth fresh from the teaching of Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:24-28), whom Paul calls his ‘helpers in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 16:3); and did he come to contradict what he had just been taught? Wherein, then, did Paul and Apollos differ? They differed in their mode of setting forth the same truths. Paul so dreaded the passion for the ‘wisdom’ which reigned at Corinth a wisdom which sacrificed substance to form that he resolved to eschew all oratorical art, determining to ‘know nothing’ at Corinth ‘save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ And so sensitive was he on this point that he was with them ‘in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.’ But Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, a learned man, and probably well acquainted with Alexandrian philosophy and rhetoric, would bring to Corinth no mean gifts; and being ‘mighty in the Scriptures’ and ‘fervent in spirit not to say in the glow of newly-discovered views of the truth would naturally throw into his expositions and appeals some of those very qualities which Paid had eschewed. Certainly his entrance made a great impression, for he helped them much which had believed through grace, powerfully confuting the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ’ (Acts 18:27-28). Perhaps he deemed it right ‘becoming all things to all men, that by all means he might gain some’ to give free scope to all his gifts and culture in the service of the truth. In this case it is easy to see how a one-sided admiration of the man might spring up, and a contrast be drawn to the disadvantage and disparagement of their father in the faith. In reply to this it might have been said, with much truth, that the method of Apollos, had the ground been first broken by him, would probably have yielded no fruit, and that all his success, under the great Husbandman, was owing to the ground having been first broken roughly and tremulously by him whom some were beginning to disparage. But Paul had his advocates at Corinth, jealous for their father in the faith, whose vast range of thought and wonderful insight into Scripture would be held up, perhaps, with as much of a party spirit as in ‘those who cried up Apollos.
Next, as to ‘Cephas,’ it is true that Paul had once a dispute with him (Galatians 2:11-16); but this had to do with his acting, not at all with his teaching; or, rather, that while his teaching was right, his acting on a certain occasion had not been in accordance with it, but had been too much of a trimming character.  The whole difference, intellectual and theological, between these two great apostles-over and above method, form, and style lay in their point of view and breadth of conception. The natural gifts of the one towered far above those of the other, and even of most men; and the former had a varied training and wide opportunities which the latter never enjoyed. As Peter’s one theme was ‘Jesus as the Christ’ of the Old Testament, so his labours were almost exclusively among the Jews. Indeed, on one occasion, when ministering to a whole company of Gentile converts, and baptizing them without circumcision, he seemed out of his proper element, and afterwards apologised for what he had done as a thing forced on him by Divine direction. In his speeches and in his Epistles we find no Pauline breadth of view and no Apollonian grace of method; but we do find in his speeches a grand simplicity and directness of manner, a concentration of thought, and a heroism of character; and in his First Epistle such a chastened and unctuous spirit as has made it dear to every Christian heart; while in his Second we find all his early fire kindling up afresh as he writes of those who, at that utter stage of the Church, were undermining its faith and staining its purity. Such a type of Christianity so distinct from that both of Paul and Apollos would make the name of this apostle and the character of his ministry well enough known at Corinth, though, up to this time at least, he had never been (here. Still we hardly think there is ground to conclude that there was an actual Cephas-party at Corinth. It remains only to ask, Was there a Christ-party there? That amidst the dissensions in that Church some would lift up an indignant protest against all such partisanship, as obscuring the glory of the one Master, is conceivable enough; nor is it improbable that some of these might hold up Christ’s personal teaching in contrast with that even of His apostles. But in the absence of even a hint that such a party did exist (which 2 Corinthians 10:7 has been groundlessly thought to point to), we cannot regard it as having a shadow of probability. To us, in short, it appears that the Corinthians ranged themselves under two names only, their first and second teachers, to whom respectively they owed the existence and the consolidation of their Church; that ‘Cephas’ is introduced only to vary the illustration; and that ‘Christ’ is added to crown the absurdity of such mischievous partisanship. Indeed, such disputes only too readily spring up still in churches with distinguished but differently gifted preachers.
 We waive all r eference to Peter’s high encomium on Paul. 2 Peter 3:15-16, as that Epistle is rejected as spurious by those whom we here combat.
1 Corinthians 1:13. Is Christ divided?  The point of this question does not lie in the rending of the Church (as is the view of Estius, Olshausen, etc.), nor in the dividing of Christ Himself into parts (Osiander, Alford, etc.), but it is whether Christ divides with His own preachers the honour of being Lord and Master of the converts.
 Lachmann points this clause indicatively ‘Christ is divided’ and Meyer, Stanley, and Alford assent to this; because (as they hold), if the sense had been interrogative, the negative particle υή should have preceded. But this is disproved by chap. 1 Corinthians 10:22 and 2 Corinthians 3:1, where in the first of two questions, to which a negative answer is expected, this particle is not inserted.
Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptised into the name of Paul? Here the apostle, purposely sinking Apollos and Cephas, puts himself modestly in the forefront to expose the repulsiveness as well as absurdity of the thought which alone could justify such exaltation of men. (Note here the place assigned to the Cross, as the central and vital feature of Christ’s work; ‘baptism into’ His name simply setting its seal to this.)
1 Corinthians 1:14. I thank God (it was so ordered) that I baptized none of you save Crispus ‘the ruler of the synagogue’ (Acts 18:8); an event in the Jewish community at Corinth of such importance as to justify a deviation from his usual practice of baptizing by deputy. On the same principle Peter seems to have acted on one memorable occasion (Acts 10:48).
And Gaius, We read of a Gaius, or Caius, of Macedonia (Acts 19:29), of Derbe (Acts 20:4), and of Corinth (here), under whose roof the Epistle to the Romans was written (Romans 16:23). The Third Epistle of John also is addressed ‘to Gaius the beloved.’ The two last, if we may judge from the uncommon hospitality ascribed to them, seem to be identical; and possibly all four were the same person.
1 Corinthians 1:15. Lest any one should say that ye were baptized into my name. Thankful he is that he is able to give them undeniable proof of the absence of all self-seeking on his part, little thinking when at Corinth that he should ever have occasion to recall the fact.
1 Corinthians 1:16. And I baptised . . . any other ‘I am wrong; I did baptize one other family, that of Stephanas; but if I baptized any more it has escaped me.’ The easy freedom with which this is expressed is plainly intentional, to show how insignificant he all along held such a circumstance to be.
1 Corinthians 1:17. For Christ seat me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.
Note. Would the apostle have so written if in and by baptism a new life were imparted to the soul? It is no answer to this to say that the agent is of no consequence; it is the ordinance itself: for it is the comparative unimportance of the ordinance itself which is thus emphatically expressed. Adult believers are indeed said to ‘wash away their sins’ in baptism (Acts 22:16), and to be baptized into newness of life (Romans 6:3-6); but since believing always came first, and it was in believing that they received their new life (John 20:31; Ephesians 1:13), and Peter grounded the right of Cornelius and his company to be baptized upon their having already received the Holy Ghost as well as themselves who were Jewish believers (Acts 10:47-48), it is perfectly clear, unless we are to put the effect for the cause, that the baptism of adults could only be said to ‘wash away their sins’ and impart new life, as a symbolical expression and open declaration that they were believers first (Acts 2:41), and as such already in a state of reconciliation and newness of life. This alone explains the minimizing and almost contemptuous way in which baptism albeit a Divine ordinance is here referred to.
SUMMARY. ‘I beseech you, study unity. Instead of this, I hear ye are ranging yourselves into schools and parties, each contending for its favourite preacher as if your salvation hung upon him. Thus is the glory of Christ obscured the attention which ought to be directed to Him being drawn away to the preacher of Him. For myself, fearful of such a result, I have studiously eschewed every art that might fascinate you with the servant rather than the Master. And though knowing right well that since the cross of Christ is distasteful to the natural man, alike in Jew and Gentile, the ranks of the Church would be filled for the most part from those who are of no account in the world, I knew also that its Divine power to transform and ennoble all who receive it would thus be only more signally displayed, and glory only more manifestly accrue to God.’
The injury done to the Cross by human wisdom, 17-31.
1 Corinthians 1:17. not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void. Thus easily, in the middle of a verse, does the apostle here slide into the great theme of this and the three following chapters, namely, the place which ‘Christ crucified’ should hold in the esteem of all who believe, forgetfulness of which was the cause, as a due regard to it would be the effectual cure, of all their miserable dissensions. ‘Wisdom of word’ here comprehends more than the mere rhetorical tricking out of the message, indeed, more or less of the substance of the message itself, as will presently appear. To a people thoroughly vitiated in their taste, to what temptation would the preacher of the Gospel be more open than that of shading off those features of it which are repulsive to the pride of the heart, and of urging the reception of it rather on the ground of its own ‘sweet reasonableness’ than of its being an authoritative message from heaven, as on Mars hill the apostle dealt it forth at Athens.
1 Corinthians 1:18. For the word of the cross is to them that are perishing that are pursuing a course ‘whose end is destruction’ foolishness. For if to bid them change their whole course of life would startle them, to expect them to do it by believing in one who died a malefactor’s death would seem nothing less than sheer absurdity.
But unto us who are being saved in the sense of Acts 2:40; Acts 2:44 (and see 2 Corinthians 2:15), it is the power of God- divinely efficacious. Yes, the Gospel attracts or repels, is embraced or rejected, according to the standard by which it is judged and the object in life of those who hear it. This is the great lesson of the parable of the Sower; and see John 5:44; John 7:17; John 12:42-43.
1 Corinthians 1:19. For it is written (Isaiah 29:14, nearly as in LXX.), I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent will I reject. The ‘wise’ are those who pride themselves on their insight, their capacity to search into principles, their speculative attainments; the ‘ prudent’ pique themselves on their shrewdness, as men of affairs, their sharp-wittedness or sagacity; a distinction familiar alike to the Greek thinkers and to Jewish moralizers (see Matthew 11:25). God’s purpose to expose the insufficiency of both these, as a cure for the maladies of our fallen nature and a guide to happiness, is variously held forth in the Old Testament (see Isaiah 8:20; Isaiah 29:14, here quoted; Jeremiah 8:9; Jeremiah 9:23-24, etc.); but it is only in the Gospel of Christ that this is done effectually and once for all.
1 Corinthians 1:20. Where is the wise? in general; but particularly, where is the scribe? to whom the Jew looks up for wisdom; where is the disputer of this world? to whom the Greek defers. hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 
 The scholar will observe that two Greek words are here translated by the same word ‘world;’ the former expressing the world in respect of its reigning character, the latter the sphere itself in which that character is displayed.
1 Corinthians 1:21. For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God. Full time and swing He gave it, to try what it could do for humanity, before disclosing His own sovereign remedy; and it was only when it failed to find any clear light, and get any solid footing on the most elementary of all religious truths, and the knowledge of God Himself (Romans 1:21; Romans 1:23; Romans 1:28; Acts 17:23; Acts 17:27), that it pleased God by the foolishness of the preaching meaning the message itself, the thing preached to save them that believe for in the believing reception of it lies its whole saving efficacy.
1 Corinthians 1:22. Since the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek after wisdom.  The Jews, when our Lord was on earth, clamoured for ‘signs’ supernatural attestation of His claims; but the more they got of them, the less they were satisfied; contrariwise, the Greeks looked with philosophic indifference on the whole field of the supernatural, regarding even the resurrection of Christ as adding but one more to the already plentiful stock of childish fables, fit only for the vulgar. Give us ‘wisdom,’ was their cry anything that will carry its own evidence on its face. Nor was this state of things a peculiarity of that time. Every age has its ‘Jews’ and its ‘Greeks’ its blind devotees of supernatural interposition and its self-sufficient worshippers of human reason.
 The absence of the Greek article here denotes the class, but in such cases the insertion of the article is more suited to the English idiom.
1 Corinthians 1:23. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness.
1 Corinthians 1:24. But unto them which are (internally and efficaciously) called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God a power by Jews never dreamt of, and a wisdom unimagined by the subtlest Greeks. And if so, why need the preacher, to please the Jew, hide the obnoxious features of his message, and to feed the intellectual pride of the Greek laboriously strive to show how rational the Gospel is?
1 Corinthians 1:25. Because the foolishness of God (in the doctrine of the Cross) is wiser than (the wisdom of) men; and the weakness of God (in the Gospel) is stronger than (the strength of) men. It is the ram’s-horn which throws down the walls of Jericho, the jawbone of an ass which slays its thousand men, and the sling and the stone which lays low alike the giant power and wisdom of men.
Is proof wanting? Look, says the apostle, at the classes whence its conquests are chiefly gained.
1 Corinthians 1:26. For behold your calling, brethren,  how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
 This imperative rendering is preferable to the indicative of our Authorised Version: ‘Ye see.’ It is the peculiar usage of the New Testament, and it is thrice so used in this very Epistle.
1 Corinthians 1:27. but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame them that are wise. There is here a significant transition from the neuter of the one class to the masculine of the other, to express a passage from the contemptible to the esteemed. and God chose the weak things of the world that he might put to shame the things that are strong.
1 Corinthians 1:28. and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yes, and the things that are not, or as we might say, ‘the nothings,’ to bring to nought the things that are. Five times in succession is the neuter gender purposely used here the foolish things, the weak things, the base things, the despised things, the no-things, emphatically to hold forth and reiterate the mean condition of the generality of converts, as persons of no culture, of no weight, of no account in any respect in fact, mere nobodies. And is not this the history of all the early triumphs of Christianity? And with what design?
1 Corinthians 1:29. that no flesh should glory before God. This has been all along the design of God in the erection and growth of His kingdom of grace (Jeremiah 9:23; Romans 3:27; Ephesians 2:8-9); and in the first conquests of the Gospel He kept this end specially in view. No doubt, when once gained to Christ, the rich, the mighty, and the noble were quite as ready to cast their crowns at His feet as the poorest, weakest, rudest of this world; and in doing so, they made a sacrifice proportionably nobler. But had the early converts been chiefly drawn from such influential classes, would not the triumphs of Christianity have been set down rather to the rank, power, and culture which it had contrived to draw within its pale than to the Divine power residing in and going along with the message itself? Now it was to preclude all such surmises that, by a Divine ordination, the bulk of the converts in every church and for a long time consisted of the despised classes, that none might have even a pretext for glorying before God.
1 Corinthians 1:30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God,  both righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
 This is beyond doubt the correct order of the original words, and it is only when they are read in this order that the true sense comes clearly out.
Thus reads this great statement, to catch the true sense of which requires careful attention. It is not four co-ordinate blessings which the apostle says ‘Christ is made unto us’ as our Authorised Version represents it, and most modern interpreters understand it. On the contrary, ‘wisdom’ stands out here by itself, as all-comprehensive as the one thing which Christ is “made unto us from God” in contrast with all boasted human wisdom. But that we may see how comprehensive this gift is, the apostle makes it branch out into three divisions, corresponding to the three great stages of our whole salvation:
(1) ‘RIGHTEOUSNESS’ which brings us into a right relation to God;
(2) SANCTIFICATION, embracing our whole progressive transformation into the image of God; and
(3) that in which this at length culminates, REDEMPTION from all the effects of the fall in soul and body onwards to final glory.
All this, ‘Christ is made unto us from God,’ thus precluding all boasting. Still, bad it been left wholly to ourselves to receive or reject it, the thought might have crept into the proud heart, that after all, in the last instance, ‘salvation is of him that willeth’ a thought repudiated in Romans 9:16. But to cut off even this last refuge of human pride, the statement opens with these words: ‘OF HIM are ye in Christ Jesus;’ that is to say, it is not by a self-originated act that any one is ‘in Christ,’ and so partaker of His fulness, but by an immediate Divine operation upon the soul that this vital union is effected, and that in virtue of it, He is ‘made unto us wisdom’ in its threefold provision of ‘righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.’ And the grand design of this entire exclusion of human merit is,
1 Corinthians 1:31. that according as it is written (Jeremiah 9:23, abridged), He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. Well may we ask with the apostle elsewhere, Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By what law on what principle? Why, on every principle, and at every avenue, by this method of peerless wisdom.’