Daily Devotion Text

October 25, 2019

1 Corinthians 2 – 2019-10-25

By carmenhsu In 1 Corinthians, Devotion Text with Comments Off on 1 Corinthians 2 – 2019-10-25
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    vv.1-5 “These verses contain Paul’s narrative of com­munity formation. […]  Note what he chooses to place at the center of the picture: ‘Christ Jesus and him crucified!’ Neither his comportment nor his rhet­oric drew attention to Paul; both, however pro­vided free rein to the Holy Spirit and God’s power. It is no surprise, then, that Paul judges his work among the Corinthians as leaving no room for con­fusion; their faith is grounded on God’s power, not on human wisdom or performance or status asso­ciated with sophisticated speech.”[1]

    v.2 “For Paul the critical question is what stands at the center of the picture by which all other parts of the picture gain their meaning and keep their perspective. Paul’s answer: He made the careful decision at the beginning of his time with the Corinthians that it would be Christ and the cross, not just at the beginning but throughout. […] If the crucified Christ is at the center of the picture and all else takes its definition and proportion with reference to that, then a constitutive, formative decision has been made about how the community can distinguish between what is important and what is less impor­tant or even indifferent.”[2]

    vv.3-5 “Paul’s own personal bearing mirrored his message. His self-presentation was not like that of the esteemed and confident Greek orators; rather, his weakness and fear corresponded to his foolish proclamation of a crucified Messiah. We know from 2 Corinthians 10:10 that some rival preachers regarded Paul as being an unimpres­sive figure: ‘For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.’’’ Interestingly, the words weak and contemptible are two of the words that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 to describe the vehicles that God has chosen to shame the strong and privileged. (The NRSV translates the latter in 1:28 as ‘despised.’) So, Paul did not fit the popular stereotype of the dynamic orator, and he did not employ artful rhetoric—so he says—to sway his hearers. Why? Because he wanted his preaching strategy to be consistent with ‘the word of the cross,’ with the workings of a God who refuses to play games of power and prestige on human terms.”[3]

    vv.6-16 “Verse 6 opens with an invitation for Paul’s hearers to include themselves among the mature, the spir­itual people, who can receive Paul’s not-of-this-age wisdom, and closes by giving them the opportu­nity to identify themselves with the spiritual per­son who understands (2:14-15). It even adds the extraordinary claim, ‘We have the mind of Christ’ (2:16). Paul’s notoriously ambiguous use of ‘we’ sometimes refers to him alone but, as here, it sometimes leaves an opening for the hearer to identify with Paul. So this passage is framed by an invitation to the Corinthians to think of them­selves as mature and also to think of themselves as having the ‘mind of Christ,’ which locution in Paul usually means that persons pattern them­selves after Christ (cf. Phil 2:1-5).”

    v.7 “The secret and hidden wisdom of God is, therefore, nothing more or less than Jesus Christ and him crucified. Though hidden and secret for generations, he has now been revealed as the Son of God and as the Savior of the world. The word secret (Greek mysterion) has a double stress: mere man cannot penetrate the secret, but God has in his love unlocked it to those who humble themselves before him. It remains secret and hidden to those who still rely on human wisdom.”[4]

    vv.10-16 “Paul has shown two fundamental assumptions about people and life in these verses. First, just as there are two ways, so also all humans can be divided into two groups: those with the Spirit and those without. Second, those with the Spirit can discern everything that the unspiritual persons can plus all that is disclosed by the Spirit, who, we must recall, fathoms even the depths of God (2:10). For that reason, Paul concludes (2:15) both that the truly spiritual person ‘examines, knows, discerns’ all things and that the truly spiritual per­son can claim, with Paul, that ‘we have the mind of Christ’ (2:16).”[5]

    vv.13-16 “The contrasts in verses 13-16 have received widespread abuse in the his­tory of the church. As with 1:18-20, they cannot be used to legitimate anti-intellectualism, although they certainly oppose all forms of godless intellectualism. Nor do they justify attempts at interpreting God’s will, in­cluding his revelation in the Scriptures, apart from standard, common-sense principles of hermeneutics.”[6]

    v.15 “The community has the responsibility to guard the God-given holiness of the congregation, to warn any who stray too near the borders as designated by the vice lists, and to censure anyone, like the man mentioned in 5:1-5, who has violated the sanctity of the borders. This type of judgment, which clearly from 5:5 is not final like divine judgment, but provisional and admonitory, is not only acceptable to Paul but neces­sary for the health of the community. An important part of community life for Paul is believers’ upbuilding, encouragement, consolation, and warning of one another in the daily walk of faith.”[7]

    “Verse 15 too is susceptible to severe misunderstanding. […] Here, there­fore, he is thinking primarily of being unjustly evaluated by non-Christians (or by Christians employing worldly standards), who have no authority to criticize believers for their misbehavior, since they themselves do not accept the standards they employ in making their judgments. Christians, on the other hand, may legitimately evaluate the truth or error of non-Christian be­liefs and behavior, although their primary concern should be to keep their own house in order (5:12-13).”[8]

    v.16 “We can begin to see why Paul must have felt so frustrated by the sheer fleshliness, or carnality, of the Christians at Corinth. They, like all Christians, had access to the very mind of Christ; but they were precluding themselves from the privilege of being able, by the work of the Spirit, to judge all things (15) through God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, the very wisdom of God. […] Paul is saying that Christian believers can revert to behaving like unbelievers. When a person has been born again by the Spirit of God, he becomes potentially a ‘spiritual man,’ but he is not automatically going to continue walking in the Spirit.

    “We must beware of any tendency to sit back on our haunches and to feel that we have ‘arrived.’ We must determine to love God with every fiber of our being. We must link closely with our fellow-believers in the body of Christ, because to have the mind of Christ is essentially a corporate experience; ‘we have the mind of Christ.’ As we pursue these priorities, the Spirit will unfold to us more and more of the wisdom of God in Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Lord.” [9]

    [1] Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 817.

    [2] Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 817.

    [3] Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 35-36.

    [4] John R.W. Stott, The Message of 1 Corinthians (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985) 51-52.

    [5] Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 821.

    [6] Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 67.

    [7] Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 823.

    [8] Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 68.

    [9] John R.W. Stott, The Message of 1 Corinthians (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985) 53-54.

  • Bible Text: 

    1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (ESV)  

    1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

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