1 Corinthians 1
Vincent's Word Studies
The First Epistle to the Corinthians

The account of Paul's first visit to Corinth is given in Acts 17. He continued there a year and six months, going thence to Syria, and making a brief stay on his way to Jerusalem at Ephesus, to which he returned and remained for over two years. The church at Corinth became the most important of those founded by the apostle, and probably embraced the church at the adjoining seaport of Cenchreae (see on Romans 16:1), and the Christians scattered throughout Achaia (2 Corinthians 1:1).

After Paul's departure from Corinth, Apollos, commended by the Ephesian church, was sent to labor there. Notwithstanding his efficiency he involuntarily became the cause of division in the church, as the nucleus of a party which preferred his polished rhetoric to the plainer utterances of Paul (1 Corinthians 3:4, 1 Corinthians 3:5).

Besides this, the characteristic sensuous and pleasure-loving tendencies of the Corinthians began to assert themselves within the church. The majority of the converts were of a low social grade, many of them slaves, and the seductions of the gay city often proved too strong for resistance.

The report of these evils, brought to Ephesus by Apollos on his return from Corinth, called out a letter from Paul which is lost, but which is referred to in 1 Corinthians 5:9. Additional tidings came in a letter from the church to Paul, asking advice on the following points:

1. Celibacy and marriage. Was married life a lower condition than celibacy, or was it wrong in itself? Were marriages allowable between Christians and heathen? Should a Christian wife or husband abandon a heathen spouse?

2. Meats offered to idols. Idol sacrifices were festivals. Gentile converts refused to abandon the society of their heathen friends, and mingled with them at the idol feasts; while a meal at a public festival was a substantial help to the poor. Might Christians attend these festivals? Might they buy in the market the resold meat which had been offered to idols?

3. Rules in assemblies. Should men cover their heads? Should women appear uncovered? Might women speak and teach in public?

4. Spiritual gifts. Which was the more important, speaking with tongues or preaching? What should be done when several began to speak at once?

5. The resurrection. Some maintained that it was purely spiritual and that it was already past.

6. They also desired to hear something more about the collection for the poor in Judaea, and to have Apollos sent back.

The bearers of the letter, Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, together with those of the household of Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11), also brought tidings of the factions which had divided the church and the quarrels over the different preachers. Certain Judaic teachers had come, with commendatory letters from Jerusalem, claiming the authority of Peter and impugning that of Paul, declaring that Peter was the true head of the Christian Church and Paul an interloper. A fourth distinct party is supposed by some to be indicated by the words "I of Christ" (see on 1 Corinthians 1:10). It also appeared that the assemblies of the church had become disorderly; that the agapae and the eucharist were scenes of gluttony, brawling, and drunkenness; while the gatherings for worship were thrown into confusion by the simultaneous speaking of those who professed the gift of tongues. Women were speaking unveiled in these assemblies. One prominent church-member was living criminally with his stepmother.

On the receipt of this letter Paul abandoned his intended visit to Corinth, sent Titus to inform the church of his change of plan and to arrange for the collection, and dictated to Sosthenes the first epistle to the Corinthians. Notwithstanding the subscription of the letter, "written from Philippi," a mistake which grew out of 1 Corinthians 16:5, it was written at Ephesus, as appears from 1 Corinthians 16:8, 1 Corinthians 16:19. He begins by stating his complaints against the church (1:10-11:20). He then answers the questions contained in their letter: Marriage (7:1-40); Sacrificial feasts (1 Corinthians 8:1-13). From this he diverges to the insinuations against his character and authority, noticing the charge based upon his refusal to receive pecuniary support, and asserting his unselfish devotion to the Gospel (9). He returns to the sacrificial feasts (10). Then he passes to the regulation of the assemblies (11). The different spiritual gifts and their mutual relation are discussed in ch. 12, and Love is shown to be greater and more enduring than all gifts (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). The subject of speaking with tongues is then taken up, and the superiority of prophecy to the gift of tongues is asserted (14:1-40). Ch. 15 discusses the resurrection, and the epistle concludes with references to certain personal and incidental matters, including the collection.

Authorities are generally agreed in placing the date of the epistle a.d. 57. Its authenticity is conceded on all hands.

The key-note of the epistle is struck in two correlated thoughts - the supreme headship of Christ, and the union of believers as one body in and with Him. The former thought finds expression in Paul's humble disclaimer of all merely personal authority, and of all right to a hearing save as Christ's agent and mouthpiece. The power of preaching resides in its theme - Christ crucified - and not in its philosophic wisdom nor in the personal culture of its preachers. The gifts and graces of the Church are due to Christ alone. The other thought is the standing confutation and rebuke of all the errors and abuses which have invaded the Church. Faction, fornication, litigation, fellowship with idolaters - all are sufficiently condemned by the fact that they break the sacred tie between the Church and Christ, and between individuals and the Church. Union in Christ implies divine order in the Church. The sexes fall into their true relation. The subordinations of the heavenly hierarchies are perpetuated in the Church. Confusion is banished from public worship, and the mystery of the eucharist is expounded in the mutual love and helpfulness of the participants. Diversities of spiritual gifts are harmonized and utilized through their relation to the one body and the informing power of one divine Spirit - the Spirit of love. Christian expediency, involving individual sacrifice for the common welfare, becomes an authoritative principle. This unity finds its crowning exhibition in the resurrection, in which believers share the resurrection of their Lord, and enter into final and perfect communion with His glorified life.

It has been truthfully said that no portion of the New Testament discusses so directly the moral problems of that age or of our own. Many of the same questions emerge in the social and church-life of modern times. Such are the rally of cliques round popular preachers; the antithesis of asceticism and christian liberty; of christian zeal and christian wisdom; the true relation of the sexes and the proper position and function of woman in the Church; the assertion of individual inspiration against the canons of christian decency; the antagonism between individualism and the subordination of the members to the body; the resurrection in the light of modern science; aestheticism and morals.

No epistle of the New Testament, therefore, should be more carefully studied by the modern pastor.

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
Called to be an apostle

See on Romans 1:1. Compare 1 Timothy 1:1. Not distinguishing him from other apostles. Compare Matthew 4:21; John 6:70; but Paul was called no less directly than these by Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:12-16. John does not use the word apostle, but gives the idea, John 13:18.

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

The Corinth of this period owed the beginning of its prosperity to Julius Caesar, who, a hundred years after its destruction by Mummius (b.c. 146), rebuilt and peopled it with a colony of veterans and freedmen. It was situated on the isthmus which divided Northern Greece from the Peloponnesus. It had three harbors, Cenchreae and Schoenus on the east, and Lechaeumn on the west. The isthmus, forming the only line of march for an invading or retreating army, was of the greatest military importance. It was known as "the eye of Greece." By Pindar it was called "the bridge of the sea;" by Xenophon, "the gate of the Peloponnesus;" and by Strabo, "the acropolis of Greece." In more modern times it was known as "the Gibraltar of Greece." Hence, at least as early as the march of Xerxes into Greece, it was crossed by a wall, which, in later times, became a massive and important fortification, especially in the decline of the Roman Empire. Justinian fortified it with an hundred and fifty towers. The citadel rose two thousand feet above the sea-level, on a rock with precipitous sides. In the days of the Achaean league it was called one of the "fetters" of Greece. "It runs out boldly from the surging mountain chains of the Peninsula, like an outpost or sentry, guarding the approach from the North. In days when news was transmitted by fire-signals, we can imagine how all the southern country must have depended on the watch upon the rock of Corinth" (Mahaffy, "Rambles and Studies in Greece").

At its narrowest part the isthmus was crossed by a level track called the diolcus, over which vessels were dragged on rollers from one port to the other. This was in constant use, because seamen were thus enabled to avoid sailing round the dangerous promontory of Malea, the southern extremity of the Peloponnesus. A canal was projected and by Nero, but was abandoned. The common title of the city in the poets was bimaris, "the city of the two seas."

The commercial position of Corinth was, therefore, most important, communicating with the eastern and the western world, with the north and the south. The isthmus was one of the four principal points for the celebration of the Grecian games; and in Paul's day great numbers flocked to these contests from all parts of the Mediterranean.

On the restoration of the city by Julius Caesar, both Greek and Jewish merchants settled in Corinth in such numbers as probably to outnumber the Romans. In Paul's time it was distinctively a commercial center, marked by wealth and luxury. "It was the 'Vanity Fair' of the Roman Empire, at once the London and the Paris of the first century after Christ" (Farrar). It was conspicuous for its immorality. To "corinthianize" was the term for reckless debauchery. Juvenal sarcastically alludes to it as "perfumed Corinth;" and Martial pictures an effeminate fellow boasting of being a Corinthian citizen. The temple of Aphrodite (Venus) employed a thousand ministers. Drunkenness rivaled licentiousness, and Corinthians, when introduced on the stage, were commonly represented as drunk. Paul's impression of its profligacy may be seen in his description of heathenism in the first of Romans, and in his stern words concerning sensual sin in the two Corinthian Epistles. "Politically Roman, socially Greek, religiously it was Roman, Greek, Oriental, all in one. When, therefore, the apostle preached to the Corinthians, the Gospel spoke to the whole world and to the living present" (Edwards).

Called to be saints

See on Romans 1:7.

Call upon the name (ἐπικαλουμένοις τὸ ὄνομα)

Compare Romans 10:12; Acts 2:21. The formula is from the Septuagint. See Zechariah 13:9; Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4; Psalm 115:17. It is used of worship, and here implies prayer to Christ. The first christian prayer recorded as heard by Saul of Tarsus, was Stephen's prayer to Christ, Acts 7:59. The name of Christ occurs nine times in the first nine verses of this epistle.

Theirs and ours

A.V. and Rev. connect with Jesus Christ our Lord. Better with in every place. Every place in the province where Christians are is our place also. The expression emphasizes the position of Paul as the founder and apostolic head of Christianity in Corinth and in all Achaia.

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace - peace

Grace is the Greek salutation, peace the Jewish. Both in the spiritual sense. Compare Numbers 6:25, Numbers 6:26. This form of salutation is common to all Paul's epistles to the churches. In Timothy and Titus, mercy is added. James alone has the ordinary conventional salutation, χαίρειν rejoice, hail, greeting.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
I thank (εὐχαριστῶ)

Found in the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation, but most frequently in Paul.

My God

Some very high authorities omit. The pronoun implies close personal relationship. Compare Acts 27:23; Philippians 1:3; Philippians 3:8.

By Christ Jesus (ἐν)

Better, as Rev., in; in fellowship with. The element or sphere in which the grace is manifested.

That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
Ye are enriched (ἐπλουτίσθητε)

Rev. more literally, "were enriched." Compare Colossians 3:16; and see on Romans 2:4.

Utterance - knowledge (λόγῳ - γνώσει)

The two words are found together, 1 Corinthians 12:8; 2 Corinthians 11:6; 2 Corinthians 8:7. For knowledge, see on Romans 11:33. Utterance, aptitude in speech. Paul gives thanks for speech as a means of testifying for Christ. "The saints have never been silent" (Pascal).

Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
Witness of Christ (μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ)

Testimony concerning Christ. See on John 1:7. Compare Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:8.

So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Come behind (ὑστερεῖσθαι)

See on Luke 15:14, and compare Romans 3:23. Contrast with were enriched.

Gift (χαρίσματι)

See on Romans 1:11. Its prevailing sense in this epistle is that of special spiritual endowments, such as tongues, prophecy, etc. Here of spiritual blessings generally.

Waiting (ἀπεκδεχομένους)

See on Romans 8:19. Denoting assiduous waiting. Dr. Thayer compares the phrase wait it out (ἐκ).

Revelation (ἀποκάλυψιν)

See on Revelation 1:1.

Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Compare 1 Corinthians 1:6.

Unto the end

Of the present aeon or period. See on end of the world, Matthew 28:20.

Blameless (ἀνεγκλήτους)

Used by Paul only. In apposition with you. Rev., unreprovable. The kindred verb ἐγκαλέω occurs only in Acts and Romans. See on Romans 8:33. It means to accuse publicly, but not necessarily before a tribunal. See Acts 23:28, Acts 23:29; Acts 26:2, Acts 26:7. Hence the word here points to appearance at God's bar.

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Faithful (πιστὸς)

Emphatic, and therefore first in the sentence. See on 1 John 1:9; see on Revelation 1:5; see on Revelation 3:14. Compare 2 Timothy 2:13.

Ye were called (ἐκλήθητε)

See on Romans 4:17.

Fellowship (κοινωνίαν)

See on 1 John 1:3; see on Acts 2:42; see on Luke 5:10.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
I beseech (παρακαλῶ)

See on consolation, Luke 6:24. The word occurs more than one hundred times in the New Testament.

Divisions (σχίσματα)

See on John 10:19. In classical Greek used only of actual rents in material. So in Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21. In the sense of discord, see John 7:43; John 9:16; John 10:19. Here, faction, for which the classical word is στάσις: division within the christian community. The divisions of the Corinthian church arose on questions of marriage and food (1 Corinthians 7:3, 1 Corinthians 7:5, 1 Corinthians 7:12); on eating, meat offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 10:20); on the comparative value of spiritual endowments, such as speaking with "tongues" (14) ; on the privileges and demeanor of women in the assemblies for worship (1 Corinthians 11:5-15); on the relations of the rich and the poor in the agape or love-feasts (1 Corinthians 11:17-22); and on the prerogatives of the different christian teachers (1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 3:3-22).

Perfectly joined together (κατηρτισμένοι)

Rev., perfected together. See on Matthew 21:16; see on Luke 6:40; see on 1 Peter 5:10. Carrying on the metaphor in divisions. Not of individual and absolute perfection, but of perfection in the unity of the Church.

Mind (νοΐ̀)

See on Romans 7:23.

Judgment (γνώμῃ)

See on Revelation 17:13. The distinction between mind and judgment is not between theoretical and practical, since νοῦς mind, includes the practical reason, while γνώμη judgment, has a theoretical side. Rather between understanding and opinion; νοῦς regarding the thing from the side of the subject, γνώμη from the side of the object. Being in the same realm of thought, they would judge questions from the same christian stand-point, and formulate their judgment accordingly.

For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
It hath been declared (ἐδηλώθη)

Rev., signified, which is hardly strong enough. The word means to make clear, or manifest (δῆλος). Compare 1 Corinthians 3:13. It may imply that Paul was reluctant to believe the reports, but was convinced by unimpeachable testimony.

Of the household of Chloe (τῶν Χλόης)

See on Romans 16:10 for the form of expression. The persons may have been slaves who had come to Ephesus on business for their mistress, or members of her family. Chloe means tender verdure, and was an epithet of Demeter (Ceres), the goddess of agriculture and rural life. It is uncertain whether she belonged to the Corinthian or to the Ephesian church.

Contentions (ἔριδες)

Socrates in Plato's "Republic" distinguishes between disputing (ἐρίζειν) and discussing (διαλέγεσθαι), and identifies contention (ἔρις) with gainsaying (ἀντιλογία), "Republic," v., 454. Compare Titus 3:9.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Now this I say (λέγω δὲ τοῦτο)

A familiar classical formula: What I mean is this. Rev., Now this I mean. This usually refers to what follows. Compare Galatians 3:17; Ephesians 4:17.

I am of Paul and I of Apollos

The repeated δὲ and, expresses the opposition between the respective parties. The followers of Apollos preferred his more philosophical and rhetorical preaching to the simpler and more direct utterances of Paul. Others ranged themselves under the name of Peter.


Aramaic for Πέτρος Peter. See on John 1:42. It is Paul's usual name for Peter, Πέτρος occurring only Galatians 2:7, Galatians 2:8. Peter would be the rallying-point for the Judaizing Christians, who claimed him as the apostle of the circumcision. The state of the Corinthian church offered the most favorable ground for Paul's Jewish-Christian adversaries, who took advantage of the reaction created by the looser views and practice of Gentile Christians, and by the differences of opinion on important questions, to press the necessity of legal regulation, and of ceremonial observances in non-essentials.

Of Christ

Many modern authorities hold that Paul thus designates a fourth and quite distinct party. This view rests mainly on the form of statement in this verse, and has no support in the epistle. The peculiar characteristics of this party, if it were such, can only be conjectured. It seems more probable that those who were "of Christ" belonged to the party of Peter: that they were native Jews, coming from abroad with letters of recommendation to Corinth, representing themselves as ministers and apostles of Christ, and using His name as the watchword under which they could most successfully prosecute their opposition to Paul and the gospel which he preached. The allusion in this verse would therefore link itself with those in the tenth and eleventh chapters of the second epistle.

Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
Is Christ divided? (μεμέρισται ὁ Χριστός)

Some of the best expositors render as an assertion. Christ has been divided by your controversies. He is broken up into different party Christs. This gives a perfectly good and forcible sense, and is favored by the absence of the interrogative particle μὴ, which introduces the next clause. Divided: so portioned up that one party may claim Him more than another. Christ has the article. See on Matthew 1:1.

Was Paul crucified for you? (μὴ Παῦλος ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν)

A negative answer is implied. Paul surely was not, etc. For is ὑπέρ on behalf of, not περί on account of, as some texts.

In the name (εἰς τὸ ὄνομα)

Rev., correctly, Into the name. See on Matthew 28:19. Of Paul as the name of him whom you were to confess. The order of the original is: Was it into the name of Paul that ye were baptized?

I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
I had baptized (ἐβάπτισα)

The correct reading is ἐβαπτίσθητε ye were baptized. So Rev. Paul's commission contains no mention of baptism. Compare Acts 9:15, with Matthew 28:15. From his peculiar position as the inaugurator of a second epoch of Christianity, many would be tempted to regard him as the real founder of the Church, and to boast of having been baptized into his name. "No outward initiation of converts entered into his ministry" (Edwards).

And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.
And I baptized also

Another exceptional case occurs to him which he conscientiously adds. The δὲ and has a slightly corrective force.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Should be made of none effect (κενωθῇ)

Lit., emptied. Rev., made void. Compare is made void, Romans 4:14, and the kindred adjective κενὸν, κενὴ vain, 1 Corinthians 15:14. The nucleus of the apostolic preaching was a fact - Christ crucified. To preach it as a philosophic system would be to empty it of its saving power, a truth which finds abundant and lamentable illustration in the history of the Church.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
The word of the cross (ὁ λόγος ὀ τοῦ σταυροῦ)

Lit., the word, that, namely, of the cross. The second article is definitive and emphatic. The word of which the substance and purport is the cross.

To them that perish (τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις)

Lit., that are perishing. So Rev. The present participle denotes process: they who are on the way to destruction. Compare 2 Corinthians 2:15.

Foolishness (μωρία)

Only in this epistle. See on have lost his savor, Matthew 5:13.

Which are saved (τοῖς σωζομένοις)

Rev., being saved: in process of salvation.

For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
I will destroy, etc.

Cited literally from the Septuagint, Isaiah 29:14, except that the Septuagint has κρύψω I will conceal, instead of I will reject. The Hebrew reads: "The wisdom of its (Judah's) wise men shall perish, and the sagacity of its sagacious men shall hide itself."

Wisdom - prudence (σοφίαν - σύνεσιν)

The two words are often found together, as Exodus 31:3; Deuteronomy 4:6; Colossians 1:9. Compare σοφοὶ καὶ συνετοί wise and prudent, Matthew 11:25. For the distinction, see, as to σοφία wisdom, on Romans 11:33; as to σύνεσις prudence, on Mark 12:33; Luke 2:47. Wisdom is the more general; mental excellence in its highest and fullest sense. Prudence is the special application of wisdom; its critical adjustment to particular cases.

Will bring to nothing (ἀθετήσω)

See on Luke 7:30. Originally, to make disestablished (ἄθετον) something which is established or prescribed (θετόν) Hence to nullify, make void, frustrate, and, in a milder sense, to despise or reject, as Galatians 2:21. The stronger sense is better here, so that Rev., reject is not an improvement on the A.V. The American revisers render: And the discernment of the discerning will I bring to nought.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Scribe (γραμματεύς)

Always in the New Testament in the Jewish sense, an interpreter of the law, except Acts 19:35, the town-clerk.

Disputer (συζητητὴς)

Only here. Compare the kindred verb συζητέω to question with, Mark 1:27; Luke 22:23; Acts 6:9; and συζήτησις disputation, Acts 15:2, Acts 15:7. Referring to Grecian sophistical reasoners, while scribe refers to rabbinical hair-splitters.

World (αἰῶνος)

See on John 1:9. More correctly, age or period.

Made foolish (ἐμώρανεν)

Proved it to be practical folly; stupefied it. Compare Romans 1:22. Possibly with a latent suggestion of the judicial power of God to make it foolish.

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
After that (ἐπειδὴ)

Rev., correctly, seeing that.

By wisdom (διὰ τῆς σοφίας)

Better, as Rev., giving the force of the article, "through its wisdom."

Preaching (κηρύγματος)

Not the act, but the substance of preaching. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:23.

To save (σῶσαι)

The word was technically used in the Old Testament of deliverance at the Messiah's coming; of salvation from the penalties of the messianic judgment, or from the evils which obstruct the messianic deliverance. See Joel 2:32; Matthew 1:21; compare Acts 2:40. Paul uses it in the ethical sense, to make one a partaker of the salvation which is through Christ. Edwards calls attention to the foregleam of this christian conception of the word in the closing paragraph of Plato's "Republic:" "And thus, Glaucon, the tale has been saved, and has not perished, and will save (σώσειεν) us if we are obedient to the word spoken, and we shall pass safely over the river of forgetfulness and our soul will not be defiled."

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
The Jews

Omit the article. Among the Jews many had become Christians.

Require (αἰτοῦσιν)

Rev., ask. But it is questionable whether the A.V. is not preferable. The word sometimes takes the sense of demand, as Luke 12:48; 1 Peter 3:15; and this sense accords well with the haughty attitude of the Jews, demanding of all apostolic religions their proofs and credentials. See Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; John 6:30.


See on Acts 6:1.

Seek after (ζητοῦσιν)

Appropriate to the Greeks in contrast with the Jews. The Jews claimed to possess the truth: the Greeks were seekers, speculators (compare Acts 17:23) after what they called by the general name of wisdom.

Christ crucified (Χριστὸν ἐσταυρωμένον)

Not the crucified Christ, but Christ as crucified, not a sign-shower nor a philosopher; and consequently a scandal to the Jew and folly to the Gentile.

Unto the Greeks (Ἕλλησι)

The correct reading is ἔθνεσιν to the Gentiles. So Rev. Though Ἕλληνες Greeks, is equivalent to Gentiles in the New Testament when used in antithesis to Jews, yet in this passage Paul seems to have in mind the Greeks as representing gentile wisdom and culture.

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
The foolishness (τὸ μωρὸν)

Lit., the foolish thing. More specific than the abstract μωρία foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 1:21), and pointing to the fact of Christ crucified.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
Calling (κλῆσιν)

Not condition of life, but your calling by God; not depending on wisdom, power, or lineage.

Noble (εὐγενεῖς)

Of high birth. So originally, though as Greece became democratic, it came to signify merely the better sort of freemen. Plato applies it to the children of native Athenians ("Menexenus," 237). Aeschylus makes Clytaemnestra say to the captive Cassandra that if slavery must befall one there is an advantage in having masters of ancient family property instead of those who have become unexpectedly rich ("Agamemnon," 1010).

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
Hath chosen

The threefold repetition of the word emphasizes the deliberate and free action of God's gracious will.

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
Base (ὠγενῆ)

Of no family. The reverse of εὐγενεῖς noble.

Despised (ἐξουθενημένα)

Lit., set at nought. Not merely despised, but expressly branded with contempt. See Luke 23:11.

That no flesh should glory in his presence.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
Wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

The last three terms illustrate and exemplify the first - wisdom. The wisdom impersonated in Christ manifests itself as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. For δικαιοσύνη righteousness, see on Romans 1:17. For ἁγιασμός sanctification, see on Romans 6:19. For ἀπολύτρωσις redemption, see on Romans 3:24.

That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
He that glorieth, etc.

From Jeremiah 9:23, Jeremiah 9:24, abridged after the Septuagint.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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