1 Corinthians 1



The Corinthian church remains an example for all times concerning the fact that God does not tolerate sin in His church. The consequence of sin in the body of Christ is disunity, 1 Corinthians 1:10.

Jealousy and strife are always at the heart of disunity in the church, 1 Corinthians 3:3.

Spiritual growth is the remedy for any problems among brethren, the church, and the home, 1 Corinthians 3:1ff.

1. A look at the current state of the church, 1 Corinthians 1.

A. The Corinthians are the ‘sanctified’ 1 Corinthians 1:2, and ‘called’ 1 Corinthians 1:2, identified as ‘saints’ 1 Corinthians 1:2.

B. Paul’s charge is that they be ‘blameless’ 1 Corinthians 1:8.

C. Paul beseeches the Corinthians to be united in the word of God, 1 Corinthians 1:10.

2. Identifying sins that stood in the way of their being ‘blameless’, 1 Corinthians 1-6.

A. Jealousy and strife revolving around measuring self-importance by who taught and baptized them, 1 Corinthians 1:12-16 / 1 Corinthians 3:34 / 1 Corinthians 3:21 / 1 Corinthians 4:6.

B. Tolerating sin in the church, 1 Corinthians 5:1ff.

C. Brethren defrauding each other in the worldly courts. 1 Corinthians 6:1ff.

D. Brethren trying to justify their fornication, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

3. Paul answers the Corinthian’s ‘concerns’ that were apparently put in writing to him, 1 Corinthians 7-10. The brethren were guilty of unlawful divorce, eating meats sacrificed to idols, and fellowshipping sin:

A. Concerns about marriage, divorce and remarriage, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40.

B. Concerns about eating meats sacrificed idols, the use of one’s liberties, and fellowshipping error, 1 Corinthians 6-10.

4. More sinful practices of the Corinthian brethren, 1 Corinthians 11.

A. 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 exposes their women as being un-submissive.

B. 1 Corinthians 11:17ff exposes their ultra-liberal and sinful practices upon the first day of the week assembly by perverting the Lord’s Supper. Brethren were having a feast and were drunk with pride upon the first day of the week.

C. 1 Corinthians 11:18 expose divisions among the members.

5. Errors revolving around spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12-14.

A. A lack of love for each other caused division in the church over spiritual gifts. Many Corinthians viewed speaking in tongues as a greater gift. Paul clears the matter up in 1 Corinthians 14:1-3.

B. Chaotic assemblies on the first day of the week; i.e., tongue speakers, prophets, and inspired singers were all speaking and singing at the same time. There was no order in the church, 1 Corinthians 14:26-32.

C. Women were addressing the assembly of saints in the church, 1 Corinthians 14:33-36.

6. False teaching on the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15.

A. Paul writes, ‘how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?’ 1 Corinthians 15:12.

B. Paul reasons that if the dead will not be raised then let us eat, drink, and be merry because when we die that would be the end of the matter (yet we know better than this), 1 Corinthians 15:32.

7. Final Exhortations, 1 Corinthians 16.

A. Paul reveals his projected itinerary, 1 Corinthians 16:1-12.

B. The Corinthians are admonished to stand strong and courageous in the faith, 1 Corinthians 16:13.

C. Paul reminds them to remain affectionately connected to each other, 1 Corinthians 16:19-20.


The City of Corinth is located on an isthmus that connects southern Greece to the Peloponnese (Achaia). The connecting isthmus is five miles across. Sailors, coming from Athens or Asia Minor, often stopped in Corinth walking the five miles rather than sailing around the Cape of Malea.

Sailing around was, to some extent, a treacherous trip due to the strong Mediterranean winds. Because of the geographic location of Corinth, it was perfect for trade and commerce. Ships, on their way westward, would stop here. Quick population and economic growth were the results.

The city of Corinth was a city of great wealth. Wealth and population explosion gave way to an entertainment industry. The Isthmian games were a main source of entertainment to the Corinthians. The games, similar in nature to the Olympic games of neighbouring Olympia, occurred every other year. The apostle Paul referred to these games in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

A city with economic success, a vast population, and world-renowned Olympic style games would naturally attract a variety of religious movements. Most cities of this day were devoted to a particular god or goddess. Ephesus was devoted to the goddess Diana. The principal deity worshipped in the city of Corinth was Venus, the goddess of love and licentiousness.

Just to the south of the city was a giant rock formation rising 1800 feet above sea level known as the Acrocorinthus. A temple to Venus was erected on the northern side of this mountain. The temple employed 1000 female prostitutes for the worship of Venus.

Barnes notes that many merchants lost everything they had in the city of Corinth ‘worshipping Venus’. A common proverb of their day was: ‘It is not for everyone to go to Corinth.’ The city of Corinth reminds us of our modern-day Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the ‘sin city of their day.’

The apostle Paul came here around the year 51AD, preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, and establishes a thriving church, Acts 18:1-4. Paul’s visit to Corinth was on his second tour of preaching. He had entered the city alone awaiting the arrival of his travelling companions Timothy and Silas who were to strengthen the churches in Philippi and Thessalonica, Acts 17:10-15.

Paul remained in the city of Corinth for about 2 years and then left for Ephesus eventually making it back to Judea, Acts 18:18-19. While Paul was in Corinth, he wrote the epistles to the Galatians and the Thessalonians and upon his second visit, he wrote the epistle to the Romans. The epistle to the Corinthians was written by Paul while at the city of Ephesus on his third tour of preaching.

1 Corinthians 16:8-9 states, ‘But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.’

The date was likely AD 55-56. The letter to the Corinthian brethren was an obvious response to two letters Paul had received during his three-year stay in Ephesus, Acts 20:31 / 1 Corinthians 16:8-9.

Paul refers to a letter he had received from the ‘household of Chloe’ explaining the contentions among the brethren there, see 1 Corinthians 1:11. Again in 1 Corinthians 7:1, he alludes to a letter that had reached his hands that was written by the church in Corinth.

These two letters outlined the sinful direction the Corinthian church was headed. Paul was well informed of the problems that were occurring among the brethren in Corinth before writing this first epistle.

Paul’s previous time in Corinth afforded him first-hand knowledge of what the brethren were faced with in their everyday affairs. The dissolute condition of immorality within the city of Corinth and false teachers brought an evil influence that had far-reaching effects among the brethren.

The church in Corinth had come to be divided with many problems in regards to their following the authorized word of God. Today we may refer to such a church as an open fellowship or liberal congregation. The brethren were erroneously dividing themselves based on who had baptized them, 1 Corinthians 1:12-16 / 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 / 1 Corinthians 1:21 / 1 Corinthians 4:6.

Some Christians were guilty of tolerating sin in the church, 1 Corinthians 5:1ff, defrauding each other in human courts, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, committing fornication, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, and not considering each other’s personal conscience, 1 Corinthians 8-10.

Furthermore, Christian women had lost sight of their God-ordained place in public, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 and among God’s people in the church, 1 Corinthians 14:34-36.

The Corinthians had perverted the Lord’s Supper by dividing up into social classes, 1 Corinthians 11:17ff and faction was running rampant, 1 Corinthians 11:18. The Corinthians were performing spiritual gifts for selfish reasons rather than for the profit of the whole church and thereby causing schisms in the church, 1 Corinthians 12:14.

The assembly of saints had come to be chaotic, 1 Corinthians 14:26ff and there were false teachers telling people that there would be no resurrection of the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:12.

The apostle Paul could have easily given up on these brethren due to their multitude of problems; however, due to a great love for their souls, he systematically deals with each sinful issue.

We can do no less today when it comes to the body of Christ. Though a church may have a multitude of ‘issues’ we nonetheless have the responsibility to systematically deal with each one. We can only meet our own personal responsibility. Change must ultimately come from the erring.

Paul’s Trip To Corinth

You may remember that it was in the course of that 2nd missionary journey that began at Antioch in Pisidia. And we have to say that it did not begin very well!

Perhaps it was because, whilst the first journey was undertaken under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the 2nd was the suggestion of Paul. They did not wait for the leading of the Spirit.

What we can say with certainty is that it got off to a bad start because there was a terrible dispute between Paul and Barnabas because Barnabas wanted to take with them his nephew, John Mark, and Paul objected to the suggestion in no uncertain terms, because that young man was to have gone with them on their first journey, but turned back before it had barely started.

He deserted them and went home. And Paul evidently did not think the young man had the stomach for the journey. Perhaps the lad wanted his mother! The dispute was no mild disagreement, the word used to describe is the word that gives us the words ‘paroxysm’ and ‘earthquake’.

And the outcome was that these two fine men went their different ways. Barnabas took John Mark and went to his native Cyprus whilst Paul took Silas and shortly after, Timothy, and travelled North, Acts 15:36-40. The sad fact is that Paul and Barnabas never worked together again.

So that was a depressing start to the 2nd journey, and it did not improve! We are told that Paul wanted to go into Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit forbade him, Acts 16:6. He wanted to preach the Gospel in the province of Asia and the Spirit said ‘No!’ again, Acts 16:7.

So Paul found himself travelling North and West, without any idea what lay in store for him. Eventually, he and his companions reached Troas (Troy) on the coast of the Aegean Sea, quite bewildered, because they could go no farther.

Then, in the night he had a vision in which a man of Macedonia, northern Greece, stood by his side saying ‘Come over into Macedonia and help us!’ and Paul knew what he had to do. Out there, across that narrow stretch of ocean, he could see the towering Mount Athos, in Europe, and he knew that the Gospel had to be taken there. Acts 16:6-10.

But, here again, the work did not go smoothly. They came to Philippi, a Roman colony, and thanks to the opposition of the Jews in that city, they were arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison with their feet made fast in the stocks, Acts 16:16-24.

When they were released from prison Paul and his companions continued to travel westward. They passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia without preaching, because these were two Roman Military towns, full of Roman soldiers, and continued until they reached Thessalonica a town given the name of his sister, Thessala, by Alexander the great, Acts 17:1.

And, at Thessalonica, they had some success, until the militant Jews once again stirred up the citizens so that Paul was again, taken by friends under cover of night, to a small own off the main highway, to Berea, Acts 17:5-10.

But the Jews of Thessalonica heard this and determined to follow him so that the brethren in Berea took him as though they were about to put him on a ship and send him home to Caesarea, Acts 17:13-15. What those new converts did was tremendous! They escorted him 200 miles south to Athens, where they left him and made their way home again!

So Paul arrived in Athens but he was anxious about Timothy and Silas, who had remained in Berea. Having been instructed to come to him in Athens as soon as possible, now we see a weary Apostle there in the Agora, the marketplace, confronted by more altars and images than he had ever seen before in his life!

Some of those altars bear the names of several so-called gods, Acts 17:16-21. In fact, there were so many gods in Athens that they said it was easier to find a man than to find a god in the city!

And Paul was so disturbed by what he saw, especially when he saw an altar inscribed to ‘THE UNKNOWN GOD’ that he was moved to speak about the one true God, Acts 17:22-23.

It was then that he came to the attention of the Areopogites. These were an elite group of philosophers and rulers who were officially retired but who formed a society that met regularly on the Areopagus which we call Mars Hill, although it is nothing more than a little mound in the shadow of the Coliseum, to discuss and hear and tell some new idea.

They heard that this new fellow had been speaking about the resurrection from the dead, and so they send and had him brought not the Areopagus to explain what he was preaching.

Now, you might have thought that this would have a great opportunity to present the Gospel to the leaders and thinkers of Athens, but surprisingly, he never mentioned Jesus, he did not preach the Gospel but appears to have tried to meet them on their own ground, even quoting one of their poets, Acts 17:28.

He spoke about God, judgment and resurrection and they mocked him, laughed at him and dismissed him saying, ‘We’ll hear you again on this matter’ and Luke tells us, ‘Paul departed from them’ Acts 17:32-33. Timothy and Silas had not yet come, and Paul was anxious and departed from Athens.

His visit was not altogether fruitless, there were some converts, two of whom are mentioned by name. One man, Dionysius, was an Areopagite and the other a woman named Damaris, Acts 17:34. But we do not read in the New Testament of a church being established in Athens.

When he arrived in Corinth, after all the stress and tension of the journey up to that point, and the fact that his two companions had still not come although he had ‘given a command’, that they should come without delay, Acts 17:15, and the unsatisfactory experience he had had in Athens, he must have been a weary man.

It is my view that he probably regretted having dealt with the wise men of Athens the way he did, and the way the discussion had gone.

We should not think that, because he was an Apostle he was infallible or inspired every time he opened his mouth because that would not be true.

Although we are inclined to put him on a pedestal and look up to him as something of a superhuman being. He seems capable of anything. No hardship he is not willing to bear. No danger that he will not face, No problem he cannot solve! But he was not superhuman, as we shall see as we read through this letter.

The first evidence of the humanity of Paul is seen in Acts 18:9-10, after he arrives in Corinth he has a vision in which God says to him,

1. Do not be afraid, but speak and do not hold your peace.

2. For I am with you, and

3. No one shall set on you to harm you

4. I have many people in this city!

The first fact that we should notice is stated in these verses is that when Paul arrived in Corinth he was afraid because he was human, he could misjudge situations, he could experience physical weariness, and he could feel intimidated!

As he looked back over that journey that had begun with his parting from Barnabas, nothing, absolutely nothing had gone smoothly. And now, here he was, in one of the most wicked cities of the Ancient World.

And the stress and strain and physical and mental weakness were making itself felt. It is a fact that spiritual vision often breaks down as the result of physical weariness and we would do well always o remember this.

The Problems In Corinth

Paul knew about the reputation of Corinth, as did most of the Roman world. The morality of Corinth was infamous. Every sin and vice known to mankind could be found there. It was a city with two seaports, one on either side of the narrow neck of land on which it was situated.

And because of this association with the sea and shipping and sailors, just like any major seaport today, it attracted a certain kind of women who were prepared to accommodate the seamen, and others, of course, who arrived at Corinth with money to spend after long periods at sea.

Drunkenness was commonplace so that whenever a Corinthian was represented on the stage or in the theatre, it was as a drunkard. In fact, there was a well-known saying in those days which was used to describe a person living a wild, reckless life. ‘He lives as they live in Corinth’.

Under normal circumstances, Paul would have been ready for any challenge that Corinth could present. But he came to Corinth after a long journey of stress and danger.

And, in a word, he was not himself! Weary, probably depressed by the way things had gone in Athens, and anxious because Timothy and Silas still had not joined him, as he had instructed.

That is why Luke tells us, in Acts 18:9-10 that Paul received a very significant and important vision, and Luke must have been told about it by Paul himself.

But, before I speak about it, let me point out that the vision did not come immediately on his arrival in the city. At first, Paul remained uncharacteristically silent! That is, he did not immediately begin to preach the Gospel.

Instead, he met two Jews, who had been turned out of Rome by Claudius, who had banished all Jews from Rome. And, because they were tent-makers, like Paul himself, he stayed with them and worked with them, Acts 18:2-3. Like any good Jew, he attended the synagogue regularly, and, like any devout Jew, he discussed the scriptures, Acts 18:4.

Remember that the Synagogue was at the heart of any Jewish community in the Empire. It was the centre for social contact, benevolence and discussion of the Scriptures. So, those whom he met in this Synagogue did not know him as Paul, the leading exponent of what they would have considered a new, false religion that was said to be ‘everywhere spoken against’.

To them, Paul was just a tentmaker who was remarkably well-versed in the Scriptures and had some strange ideas. And who argued very convincingly! And they saw nothing wrong in that!

This continued until Timothy and Silas eventually came to Corinth and found him, probably after searching for him in Athens, and it was after their arrival that he changed his presentation. He felt ‘constrained in the spirit’, compelled by his heart, to openly testify ‘that Jesus was Christ’, Acts 18:5.

His message was radically different from what he had presented at Mars Hill in Athens. In this letter, you will see that he changed his method, his approach, his message!

He says, in 1 Corinthians 2:2 ‘When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.’

And, as we proceed through this letter, we shall see how often he criticizes worldly, human wisdom, and worldly-wise men, contrasting the wisdom of the world with the wisdom of God.

He says, for example, in 1 Corinthians 1:21, that ‘The wisdom of the world is foolishness with God, and that the world, with its wisdom, does not know God’.

Just lookout for this in the first few chapters! Because we see a Paul who is very different from the Paul whom we saw in Athens!

Also, as we read this letter we see just how many problems had developed in the Church at Corinth within a short time after Paul’s departure.


1-4. Division. Declaring themselves followers of the various preachers and teachers who had visited Corinth, or about whom they had heard.

5. Immorality. One man was having an affair with his stepmother.

6. Litigation. They were taking each other to Court.

7. Marriage Problems about Christian Marriage.

8. The eating of meat from Pagan Temples.

10. Their abuse of Christian Liberty.

11. Their abuse of the Lord’s Supper

12-14. Spiritual Gifts; their purpose and their proper use.

15. Doctrinal Problems Resurrection from the Dead.

It’s significant that Paul introduces his letter by reminding the Corinthians of his apostolic authority and mentions it repeatedly throughout the letter.

For example, he says in 1 Corinthians 4:21 ‘Shall I come to you with a rod….’ If such a troubled church existed today I would not want to be a member of it!


From Paul, even the greatest of men are not immune from the stressful experiences of life. They can make errors when physical weakness or tiredness affects their judgment. But like Paul, they learn from experience and become better people.

From the church at Corinth, because the church consists of human beings, no congregation is ever perfect!

‘Too many hypocrites in the church!’ Come inside! There is always room for one more

The letter is divided into two parts.

1. 1 Corinthians 1-6 / 1 Corinthians 6:20.

Matters about which Paul had received information from `the household of Chloe.

2a. 1 Corinthians 7ff.

Questions were raised by the Corinthians in their letter to Paul, 1 Corinthians 7:1. These included instructions concerning the Collection, which congregations in other places, were taking up for the benefit of the poor saints in Judea. (See Acts 15). How to deal with Marriage to a pagan. The eating of meat that had been offered in pagan sacrifice. ‘Christian Liberty’.

2b. And! Those matters about which they were, understandably, silent! The Evidence of Division, ‘Party Spirit’ among them. The Immorality that was being tolerated among them. Their willingness to resort to Litigation, in courts controlled by Pagans. Their Abuse of ‘Agape’ fellowship-meals which lead to the abuse of the Lord’s Supper. Their failure to understand the purpose and use of Spiritual Gifts. Their ignorance of the Importance of the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead.

1 Corinthians 1, the seriousness of division in the church. The four parties in the Corinthian church.

“What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:12

1. Party of Liberty. (Paul) Free from the Law.

2. The Intellectual Party. (Apollos) The Greek Christians.

3. The Judaizing Party. (Cephas) The Jewish Christians. Note that Paul always calls him ‘Cephas’, his Hebrew name.

4. The Exclusive Party. ‘I am of Christ’.

Note on Apollos, he was a Greek intellectual from Alexandria, North Africa. Trained in Orator and Rhetoric. Probably also trained in graceful oratory, which the Greek Corinth would make him ‘one of their own’, which could not be said of either Paul or Cephas.

The Text

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes.” 1 Corinthians 1:1

Paul’s apostleship ‘through the will of God’, ‘called’ Not a career choice! Not ‘self-appointed’. Not a human appointment. ‘A chosen vessel’ Acts 9:15-16. ‘To make thee a minister’. Acts 26:15-18. Galatians 1:11-14 (Note his authority). Luke 10:16.

Does God ‘call’ today? How?

As the Gospel calls people to be Christians, 2 Thessalonians 2:13ff, so Jesus called Paul to be an apostle. Jesus called Paul to be an apostle so that he may preach the gospel message to Jew and Gentile, Acts 26:16-18 / Galatians 1:15-16. Many had challenged Paul regarding his apostleship and for that reason, he was compelled to defend this fact on many occasions, 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 / 2 Corinthians 11:4-5 / 2 Corinthians 12:11-13.

What is an apostle? ‘Apostolos’ is a ‘delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.’ ‘A messenger, ambassador, envoy’.

Qualifications Of An Apostle

1. Handpicked by Jesus, 1 Corinthians 1:1.

2. One who had accompanied Jesus during his days on the earth and had seen His resurrected body, Acts 1:21ff.

3. One who had received authority to reveal the will of God, Matthew 18:18 / Galatians 1:11ff.

4. Consider the fact that an ambassador is ‘the highest-ranking diplomatic representative appointed by one country or government to represent it in another’.

Paul was an ‘ambassador,’ 2 Corinthians 5:20, who represented Christ and his government to a lost and dying world. Interestingly, the saint today is an ambassador for Christ, not an apostle, but those who represent and teach Christ in this world, Matthew 28:18ff.

Sosthenes, was the chief ruler of the synagogue, Acts 18:17 on whom the Jews vented their anger before the Bema when Gallio the Roman deputy, refused to listen to their complaint. Became a Christian and was with Paul in Ephesus, from where the letter was sent.

The Corinthians would be very familiar with Sosthenes because this incident was fresh on their minds (approximately four years had passed). Crispus is also described as a chief ruler, who had already accepted the Gospel. As had ‘many Corinthians,’ Acts 18:8.

“To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.” 1 Corinthians 1:2

‘The church of God’, not ‘St Paul’s’ or ‘St Peter’s’ or ‘St Andrew’s’. Several scriptural names may be used to identify the Church. ‘Church of Christ’ is one. Others are ‘The Body of Christ’, and ‘The Bride of Christ’. ‘The Family of God’. ‘The Kingdom (of His dear Son)’ ‘The Church of the First-born’ and there are others.

We should avoid using the name ‘Church of Christ’ in a way that makes it a Denomination. For example, a lady described herself as ‘a Church of Christer’. Another lady said she was a member of ‘the Church of Christ Church’.

The word church ‘ecclesia is ‘an assembly of the citizens regularly summoned… to call an assembly’. Individuals are ‘summoned’ or ‘called’ into the church by the gospel message, 2 Thessalonians 2:13ff. Collectively then, the saints are termed the church, an assembly of those who have been called out of darkness and into the light of God, 1 Peter 2:9ff.

As ambassadors for Christ, the apostles preached the government of Jesus and those who wilfully submit to the terms of admission into this new government or kingdom (church) are citizens thereof, Ephesians 2:19.

The ‘sanctified’ is equivalent to those of the church. To be sanctified is to be separate from things profane and dedicate to God, to consecrate and so render inviolable.

Since only what is pure and without blemish can be devoted and offered to God, Leviticus 22:20 / Deuteronomy 15:21 / Deuteronomy 17:1, sanctified signifies to purify and to cleanse externally, to purify by expiation, free from the guilt of sin, 1 Corinthians 6:11 / Ephesians 5:26 / Hebrews 10:10 / Hebrews 10:14 / Hebrews 10:29 / Hebrews 13:12, to purify internally by the reformation of soul.

When one is baptized into Christ he or she is sanctified 1 Corinthians 6:11. Sins are remitted in Acts 2:38. This cleansing of sins is made possible through the blood of Jesus Christ, Matthew 1:21 Matthew 26:28. Sanctification is not a moral action, it is a state of being.

Since God is light and in Him is no darkness, those who would be in fellowship with him must of necessity be separated from all moral defilements, Isaiah 59:1 / 1 John 1:5ff / 2 Corinthians 7:1.

This occurs at baptism, Acts 22:16 and is maintained by humble, contrite hearts seeking forgiveness when sin occurs, Psalms 51:1-17 / Isaiah 57:15 / Acts 8:22f / 2 Corinthians 7:10ff.

The phrase ‘in Christ Jesus’ simply means that our sanctification occurs because of Jesus, Hebrews 10:10-14. Those sanctified are those who are ‘called to be saints.’ Every true saint in the universal church has been called into this relationship (fellowship with God) through the gospel, 2 Thessalonians 2:13ff.

The saint is sanctified and the sanctified are those who ‘call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours.’ The phrase, ‘call upon’ is the Greek word ‘epikaleo’ which means to ‘invoke or appeal to’. ‘To invoke, adore worship, the Lord, i.e. Christ’.

The saint is one who is sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ through faith! This faith motivates one to make appeals to God. Without such faith, one can in no way be pleasing to God, Hebrews 11:6.

The question that must be answered is, how can the Corinthians be viewed as sanctified saints of the church of God while being found in sin?

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:3

When Paul writes to the Congregations ‘Grace and Peace’. When he writes to Timothy, Titus and Philemon ‘Grace, mercy and Peace’. Greetings reflect his feelings towards those to whom he is writing. Varying between affection and severity.

“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-6

Paul kept the Corinthian brethren in his daily prayers and was thankful for their obedient faith. The obedient had received God’s ‘grace’ which is the forgiveness of sins through baptism leading to the hope of heaven, see Ephesians 2:8 / Ephesians 1:5-7 / Acts 2:38.

The spiritual blessing of grace (the forgiveness of sins and the hope of salvation) is ‘in Christ.’ Jesus provided the opportunity for man’s salvation through the cross and therefore salvation is only through or in Him.

Because the Corinthians were recipients of God’s grace, they were enriched in Him. Consider 2 Corinthians 8:9. Every saint that receives forgiveness of sins is rich in God’s grace.

This rich state was because the Corinthians had a multitude of people who knew and understood the scriptures and ably taught them (utterance and knowledge).

Corinth’s problems did not revolve around a lack of understanding on anyone’s part as we shall look further into later. The ‘testimony of Christ’ (the gospel) was firmly established in them by truth confirming miracles.

“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:7-9

‘Coming’ or ‘revealed’ is the Greek word ‘Parousia’ in Latin it is the word, ‘Advent’. The word is very familiar in New Testament times describing a Royal Visit. The word means ‘the being beside’, and indicated the presence of the Emperor.

Citizens of the Empire had good reason to be familiar with it because the visit was paid for by the taxes and the contributions that were taken up, to defray the expenses. Nevertheless, a visit was the cause of great celebration. Coins struck. Monuments erected. Sacrifices offered. Declared a ‘Holy’ day.

A list found that detailed the costs of a ‘Coming’, mentioned a golden Crown was to be presented to the Emperor when he arrived. Another papyrus, found among the wrappings around the mummified body of a crocodile, recorded that a levy of corn had been imposed on a village, by its chief and elders, to offset the cost of the Coming.

1 Corinthians 12 reveals the multiplicity of spiritual gifts that existed in the church at Corinth. The brethren had all revelation available in a clear and concise form so that they had no excuse for a lack of knowledge. The knowledge of the Gospel left the Corinthian Christians waiting, in hope, for the coming of Jesus, 2 Thessalonians 4:13ff.

The same word of God that reveals God’s gracious message of salvation shall establish or confirm the Corinthians unto the end that they may be ‘blameless’ when Jesus comes to judge the world. The word ‘blameless’ is ‘not accused, without reproach, void of offence.

The saint of God is justified (acquitted of sins) through the grace of God, Romans 5:1ff. The blood of Jesus is the only thing that can make this possible, Matthew 26:28 / Hebrews 10:1ff.

Because any sin will separate man from God, Isaiah 59:1-2 / 1 John 1:5ff saints must continue to pray for the cleansing of sins and maintain their fellowship with the father as Peter instructed Simon in Acts 8.

‘Fellowship’ is the Greek word ‘Koinonia’ and it means joint participation. Used in a marriage ceremony to indicate the sharing of the same interests. We are called into the ‘fellowship of Jesus Christ.’ Therefore, we have the same interests.

God will not disappoint anyone who, by faith, calls upon his name invoking forgiveness of past sins. The Gospel of Jesus Christ called us into this glorious fellowship with God and His son Jesus.

The saints of God shall share eternal salvation. The only thing that breaks this fellowship between God and man, and saint with a saint is sin, 1 John 1:5ff / 1 John 3:4.

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:10-12

To ‘appeal’ is the Greek word, ‘parakaleo’ is to “call on, invoke, to call to, exhort, cheer, encourage”. The context of the verse indicates that instructions are the subject. The apostle Paul said “whatsoever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” Colossians 3:17.

Paul is calling upon the Corinthian brethren to do something in accordance with the will, (authority or instructions) of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle is calling the Corinthians, (according to the authority of God), is to:

1. “Speak the same thing.”

The Corinthian brethren held preachers and instructors of Christ in such high esteem that they considered themselves “of” such teachers (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12 / 1 Corinthians 3:4). Paul encourages the brethren to be of Christ and to walk by His authority alone.

2. “That there be no divisions among you.”

Apparently, Judaism had made inroads in the body of Christ in Corinth as it had in other places, Acts 15. There cannot be unity among brethren when those brethren differ in matters of the faith. The Corinthian brethren needed instructions in the realm of adiaphorous, matters of indifference, 1 Corinthians 10.

Matters of indifference were mere opinions regarding matters such as what one should eat. Matters such as these should never divide brethren. The first of many problems experienced by the Corinthian brethren as exposed by Paul was their lack of unity.

3. The Corinthians were, therefore, exhorted to “be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

To be “perfected together” ‘katartizo’ ‘to adjust or put in order again, restore, to put nets to rights, mend them’. This phrase suggests that at one time the brethren were united, yet now are in a state of division. The admonition is to repair their thinking and to be one in Christ.

The “same mind” would indicate unity and is dependent upon the words of Jesus Christ. “Same judgment” again indicates a common stand in the authority of Jesus Christ. It is the words of Jesus that must unite Christians, cf. John 17.

Word got back to Paul by the household of Chloe, not Chloe herself, was the fact that there were “contentions” among the brethren in Corinth. Contentions means ‘strife, quarrel, debate, contention’. Remember that Paul is writing the Corinthians from Ephesus, A.D. 55-56.

Apollos had already arrived in Corinth from Ephesus and preached mightily, Acts 18:28. We are not told whether Peter had ever preached in Corinth, just as we are not told about Christ being in Corinth preaching, yet both influences were felt.

Here is a great example of how teachings can invade an area without the teacher present. These doctrines spread. The matter here is not that Paul, Apollos, Peter and Jesus were preaching different doctrines, but that the Corinthians were treating these gospel preachers as philosophers and being more converted to the personality than the message.

They elevated preachers and this attitude was in line with the Greek way of thinking. They had developed little cliques which are always devastating for any congregation.

“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)” 1 Corinthians 1:13-16

The body of Jesus was not divided up on the cross and therefore the Corinthians were not to be divided spiritually. To lay claims to Christianity through the name of any other than Christ is to greatly err. Our only glorying should be in Christ.

Paul said, “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:21

And so people are to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, Acts 2:28 but into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:18ff and no one else. Paul said he only had baptised Crispus, Acts 18:8 and Gaius, Romans 16:23.

If men were going to claim allegiance to preachers who baptised them Paul wanted no part of it, “I thank God that I baptized none of you”.

The Corinthians were suffering from ‘preacher-itis.’ The name of Paul or any other did not carry with it the authoritative power to forgive sins as did the name of Jesus Christ. The household of Stephanas was of the first fruits of Achaia, 1 Corinthians 16:15.

Notice that Paul did not have a perfect knowledge of those whom he baptised. The important thing was his remembrance and knowledge of the teachings of Jesus as an apostle, John 14:26.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” 1 Corinthians 1:17

Though baptism is necessary for salvation it was not the purpose of Christ sending Paul. Jesus sent Paul to spread the good tidings of salvation to all who would obtain faith through hearing, Romans 10:17. Baptism would necessarily be included in that message, Acts 2:38.

The Gospel message would not be in the ‘wisdom of words’ such as grand philosophical arguments that were at the heart of those in and around Achaia, Acts 17:22f. Such words would include the manner of eloquence it was delivered, 1 Corinthians 2:1.

If the Gospel message was treated as mere philosophy from the mouth of an eloquent speaker its power would be void in the hearts of those who heard it.

Remember it’s not the messenger but the message which is important. It’s the faith of the candidate for baptism which is important not the faith of the one doing the baptism. The strength of the Gospel doesn’t lay on people with authority.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-19

Here we find the second problem identified. The Corinthians misunderstood the nature of the Gospel. Here is another term for the Gospel, i.e., “the word of the cross.” To “perish,” ‘apollumi’ is to ‘destroy utterly, kill, slay, waste’. Revelation 22:11.

Jesus divided humanity into two sections, i.e., those who love light and those who love darkness, John 3:18-19. The point is each will continue in their interest. To those who are heading toward destruction, the Gospel message is nothing more than a set of rules or a discipline of philosophy.

Yet those who claim faith in Jesus Christ understand that the Word of God is much more than a philosophy, it is “the power of God” to save, Romans 1:16.

To illustrate his point, Paul quotes from Isaiah 29:14. The wisdom of the wise was their own creation, what they reasoned to be correct rather than what God revealed to be correct, Isaiah 29:13.

In this text, The Assyrian king Sennacherib was besieging Jerusalem and rather than calling on help from Jehovah; the supposed wise king made an alliance with Egypt. In this illustration, Isaiah 29, God destroyed the wisdom of the wise as He shall do in every age where men set their ideas above His revelation.

“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:20-21

The wise may be the philosopher whose reasoning is of his own. The scribe, ‘grammateus’, ‘a secretary, clerk, a writer, i.e., (professionally) scribe or secretary: town clerk’. The disputer or philosopher, ‘suzetetes’, ‘to search or examine together with another, dispute with a person.’

How did God make foolish the wisdom of the world? The world seems to think it has the answers to creation, life and human existence yet it is only theory. The Lord’s revelation reveals the beginning and end of man and therefore proves his deity, Isaiah 46:9-10.

Man’s wisdom leads to a life void of hope. Paul is making a comparison between the gospel of divine origin and man’s immediate human reason.

Many things of this earth have been figured out by human wisdom by such minds as Herodotus, Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates, Pythagoras, Einstein, Freud, etc. The truths of the Gospel; however, come from Gospel preaching, Romans 10:17.

Contrary to man’s ‘I think and therefore it is truth to me’ ideology, the Lord reveals truth through the foolishness of preaching. Paul tells us that this preaching has as its source God, Galatians 1:11-12. Such divine instructions are received by those who hear and learn, John 6:44ff.

“Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Here we have a threefold consequence of Gospel preaching. Jesus performed many signs while with the Jews that should have produced faith in them, John 20:30-31, however, they continued to ask for signs, Matthew 16:1. No sign was good enough for the unbelieving Jew. Jesus was a stumbling block to them. What is a stumbling block?

It’s the Greek word ‘skandelon’ where we get our word ‘scandal’ and it means ‘the movable stick or trigger of a trap, trap-stick; a trap, snare; any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall.’

Applied to Jesus Christ, whose person and career was so contrary to the expectations of the Jews concerning the Messiah, that they rejected him and by their obstinacy made shipwreck of salvation.

The Jews couldn’t accept the message that the Christ, the Messiah died on a cross. The Gentiles were more apt to consider words of philosophy than words of a crucified king. The Gentile considered such preaching utterly foolish. Why would a god want to die for mortals? The cross went against all human reasoning, John 12:34 / Galatians 5:11.

Though Jesus made many Jews stumble in disbelief and many Gentiles cast out His doctrine counting it foolish, the “called”, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 recognize Jesus and the Gospel message of Him to be the power of salvation, ‘Christ crucified’. Isaiah 55:8-9.

God has no foolishness nor is there any weakness with Him. The phrase then is a simple indicator regarding the power and wisdom of God.

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

A Call for every Christian to see clearly who they are and to put the glory of life in its proper place, with God. Who is it that responds to the Gospel’s call among you brethren? Not many are “wise” by the world’s standards. Not many “mighty” listen to the Gospel’s call.

Not many “noble” obey the Gospel. Why? Because this mind the things of the flesh being satisfied in life with what they have and see no need for Jesus, Jeremiah 9:23ff.

Paul asks them to look at themselves, Crispus and Gaius were noble. The text says ‘not many’ it doesn’t say ‘not any’. The Gospel is for everyone. It’s not who you are but what you are, a sinner in the need of the Gospel.

Those individuals who appear to be foolish because they have accepted by faith their justification and access into the grace of God, Romans 5:1-2, are those whom God chose to put to shame the wisdom of the world.

Those who possess knowledge of Jesus Christ and cause the hard-hearted philosopher to stumble shame the wise of the world. Godly conduct will do this! We are the conscience of the world.

Those who appear weak, base, and despised are the economically weak. These have no formal education, no mansions, and no materials of the world that would cause the world to be interested in them. Though the supposed weak seem helpless they are empowered with great joy and hope in this life and therefore bring to nought the noble things of the world.

The world despises the foolish, weak and base; however, God has exalted these by their acceptance of the Gospel message. Since that which appears detestable to the world is truly exalted, God has effectively eliminated any boasting on the part of the world.

God has offered His Son, provided the forgiveness of sins through Jesus, and delivered the Gospel message for that salvation. Those who are despised have their wisdom from above.

Paul has shown what the Christian’s calling is not, human creeds, traditions of men, science or Philosophy, 2 Timothy 1:3 and now explains what it is.


The state acceptable to God which becomes a sinner’s possession through that faith by which he embraces the grace of God offered him in the expiatory death of Jesus Christ”.


Purification, consecration; the effect of consecration: the sanctification of heart and life, 1 Corinthians 1:30.


A release is affected by the payment of ransom, redemption, deliverance, and liberation procured by the payment of a ransom. The wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23. One who sins (violates divine law) is under a curse, Galatians 3:10. Jesus redeemed man by paying the awful cost of sin by being crucified on the cross, Galatians 3:11ff. We are free from sin, John 8:32.

Since true wisdom and redemption is in Christ we ought only to glory in Him and no other, Jeremiah 9:23-24. The call of the gospel to those despised in the world results in salvation by faith. This message is simple and easily understood, 2 Corinthians 11:3.

If you want to boast, boast about Christ. Spurgeon after preaching one time had a man come up to him and say, ‘Mr Spurgeon that’s the finest sermon on that topic which has ever been preached in this place’, to which Spurgeon replied, ‘I know, the devil told me that just as I had finished’.


Paul begins this epistle reminding the Corinthians of their sanctification in the Lord. They enjoyed fellowship in the Lord only through their “blameless” state, 1 Corinthians 1:8.

Secondly, Paul calls upon the Corinthian brethren to put away divisions that exist among them so that they may maintain their state of sanctification. The household of Chloe had written Paul a letter outlining the current problems at the church in Corinth.

The first problem identified was that of elevating one Gospel preacher above another. Such activity indicated a misunderstanding of the Gospel message.

Paul clears this up by identifying such behaviour as worldly thinking. The world sees only the here and now whereas the saint of God sees with eyes of wisdom into eternity. Therefore, the things of God are despised among those who are rich, strong and filled with the world’s wisdom.

Though despised, the perceived weak and ignorant of the world who have accepted the Gospel’s call is the truly wise ones. The Gospel provides redemption, sanctification and fellowship with God. The wisdom of the world provides only temporal pleasures.

Where then should glory be placed? Should we glory in those things that will only last through this life or shall we glory in those things that go on into eternity?

Paul answers the question, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord”, 1 Corinthians 1:31

Go To 1 Corinthians 2