Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg – Bible Studies Material on 1 Cor 1:17-31
In our previous lesson, we studied about the division in the Corinthian Church and Paul’s response to it. This material focuses on Paul’s skillful response to the issue by pointing them to the sufficiency of the gospel of Christ.
Understanding the context of 1 Cor 1-2.
The Corinthian believers were divided and not living up to who they were in Christ. For they were mixing the Gospel with the wisdom of the world. They were also glorying in humans and were thus confused about the meaning of the Gospel ministry.
Proofs about the sufficiency of the gospel
Paul deals with the wisdom of the world in contrast to the wisdom of God, and in 1 Cor 1:17-3, gives certain proofs to show that the gospel is sufficient for all people.
a. Paul’s commission (1 Cor 1:17)
Paul’s conviction was that he was sent to preach the Gospel alone, not the Gospel plus human philosophies. This implies that we must guard against mixing anything with the Gospel.
b. Personal experience (1 Cor 1:8)
Both Paul and the Corinthian Church had experienced the Gospel’s power personally. Therefore, the gospel is the power of God for those who are been saved. From the perspective of Paul, however, it is foolishness to those who are perishing.
c. Scripture (1:19-20)
Paul quotes Isaiah 19:12, 29:14, and 33:18 to prove that God does not need the world’s wisdom; in fact, God will destroy it!
d. Human history (1 Cor 1:20-21)
With all its “wisdom,” the world was not able to find God or salvation. When we trace human history, we discover a record of humans gaining more and more knowledge, but less and less real wisdom, especially about spiritual matters. Romans 1:18-32 seems to imply that the world turned from God. God’s plan was so simple and unique that it seemed to be foolishness to the world! God saves those who believe in what is said about Jesus Christ.
e. Paul’s ministry (1 Cor 1: 22-25)
Paul had preached to Jews and Gentiles across the Roman world. He knew that the Jews looked for miraculous signs and the Greeks looked for philosophical wisdom. But God bypassed both ways to make salvation available through a crucified Jesus. This message about a crucified Messiah was a stumbling block to the Jews, whose idea of Christ was far different. It was foolishness to the Greeks because it seemed contrary to their philosophical systems. But Paul saw that this “foolish Gospel” was God’s power and wisdom to those Jews and Greeks who were called. Jesus is our wisdom and power; He is all we need.
f. Their own calling (1 Cor 26-29)
“If God needs human wisdom and glory,” says Paul, “then why did He ever call you?” There were not many mighty people in the church at Corinth, not many nobles or worldly-wise people. But God still saved them! God deliberately hides His truth from “the wise and prudent” and reveals Himself to the humble. Think about the history of the Bible and recall how God called the “nobodies” of history, making great leaders out of them—Abraham, Moses, Gideon and David.
g. The Sufficiency of Jesus (1 Cor 1:30-31)
Every saint is “in Jesus the Messiah” (1 Cor 1:30-31) and Jesus is to every saint all that he or she ever needs. When it comes to spiritual things, we don’t need human wisdom or power because we have Jesus. He is our redemption, our righteousness, our wisdom, our all. To add anything to the Messiah or His sacrifice on the cross is to diminish Him and His work and rob them of their power. Whenever believers take their eyes off Jesus and start depending on, trusting in, and glorifying human, then they cause divisions. Such divisions rob the church of its power.
This lesson has looked at Paul’s response to the issue of division in the Corinthian Church. To Paul, the reason for the division in the Church was their misunderstanding of the Gospel message. They confused the message of the gospel with the message of humans. As a response to this challenge, the sufficiency of the gospel has been looked at. In this case, Paul’s experience and ministry of the gospel, history and scripture all prove that the gospel is sufficient for all.
- What was the main reason for division in the Corinthian Church?
- Give four proofs that show that the gospel is sufficient for all people.
- The Gospel is centered around the crucified Christ. Explain.