1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
2To 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:
3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5For in him you have been enriched in every way – with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge – 6God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
A church divided over leaders
10I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,1:10 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verses 11 and 26; and in 2:1; 3:1; 4:6; 6:8; 7:24, 29; 10:1; 11:33; 12:1; 14:6, 20, 26, 39; 15:1, 6, 50, 58; 16:15, 20. 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. 11My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: one of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas1:12 That is, Peter’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’
13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no-one can say that you were baptised in my name. 16(Yes, I also baptised the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptised anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Christ crucified is God’s power and wisdom
18For 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. 19For it is written:
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’1:19 Isaiah 29:14
20Where 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? 21For 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. 22Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26Brothers 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. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, 29so that no-one may boast before him. 30It 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. 31Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’1:31 Jer. 9:24
1I, Paul, am writing this letter. I have been chosen to be an apostle of Christ Jesus just as God planned. Our brother Sosthenes joins me in writing.
2We are sending this letter to you, the members of God’s church in Corinth. You have been made holy because you belong to Christ Jesus. God has chosen you to be his holy people. He has done the same for all people everywhere who pray to our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is their Lord and ours.
3May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Paul Gives Thanks
4I always thank my God for you. I thank him because of the grace he has given to you who belong to Christ Jesus. 5You have been blessed in every way because of him. You have been blessed in all your speech and knowledge. 6God has shown that what we have spoken to you about Christ is true. 7There is no gift of the Holy Spirit that you don’t have. You are full of hope as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to come again. 8God will also keep you strong in faith to the very end. Then you will be without blame on the day our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9God is faithful. He has chosen you to share life with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Taking Sides in the Church
10Brothers and sisters, I make my appeal to you. I do this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I ask that all of you agree with one another in what you say. I ask that you don’t take sides. I ask that you are in complete agreement in all that you think. 11My brothers and sisters, I have been told you are arguing with one another. Some people from Chloe’s house have told me this. 12Here is what I mean. One of you says, “I follow Paul.” Another says, “I follow Apollos.” Another says, “I follow Peter.” And still another says, “I follow Christ.”
13Does Christ take sides? Did Paul die on the cross for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I didn’t baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15No one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16It’s true that I also baptized those who live in the house of Stephanas. Besides that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else. 17Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to preach the good news. He commanded me not to preach with wisdom and fancy words. That would take all the power away from the cross of Christ.
Christ Is God’s Power and Wisdom
18The message of the cross seems foolish to those who are lost and dying. But it is God’s power to us who are being saved. 19It is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of those who are wise.
I will do away with the cleverness of those who think they are so smart.” (Isaiah 29:14)
20Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where are the great thinkers of our time? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of the world foolish? 21God wisely planned that the world would not know him through its own wisdom. It pleased God to use the foolish things we preach to save those who believe. 22Jews require signs. Greeks look for wisdom. 23But we preach about Christ and his death on the cross. That is very hard for Jews to accept. And everyone else thinks it’s foolish. 24But there are those God has chosen, both Jews and Greeks. To them Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom. 25The foolish things of God are wiser than human wisdom. The weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when God chose you. Not many of you were considered wise by human standards. Not many of you were powerful. Not many of you belonged to important families. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28God chose the things of this world that are common and looked down on. God chose things considered unimportant to do away with things considered important. 29So no one can boast to God. 30Because of what God has done, you belong to Christ Jesus. He has become God’s wisdom for us. He makes us right with God. He makes us holy and sets us free. 31It is written, “The one who boasts should boast about what the Lord has done.” (Jeremiah 9:24)