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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 Paul, called to be an
apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you
who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those
everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony 3 to Christ
was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual
gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus (Christ).
God is faithful, and by him you were called to
fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
4 I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no
divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same
For it has been reported to me about you, my
brothers, by Chloe's people, that there are rivalries among you.
I mean that each of you is saying, "I
belong to 5 Paul," or "I belong to Apollos,"
or "I belong to Kephas," or "I belong to Christ."
6 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
I give thanks (to God) that I baptized none of
you except Crispus and Gaius,
so that no one can say you were baptized in my
(I baptized the household of Stephanas also; beyond
that I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
7 8 For Christ did not send
me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,
so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.
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, and the learning of the learned I will set aside."
Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe?
Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world
9 For since in the wisdom of God the world did
not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the
foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for
but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling
block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks
alike, 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.
10 Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many
of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to
shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the
world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are
so that no human being might boast 11
It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification,
so that, as it is written, "Whoever
boasts, should boast in the Lord."
1 [1-9] Paul follows the conventional
form for theopening of a Hellenistic letter (cf ⇒ Romans
1:1-7), but expands the opening with details carefully chosen to
remind the readers of their situation and to suggest some of the issues the
letter will discuss.
2  Called . . . by the will of
God: Paul's mission and the church's existence are grounded in God's
initiative. God's call, grace, and fidelity are central ideas in this
introduction, emphasized by repetition and wordplays in the Greek.
3  The testimony: this defines the
purpose of Paul's mission (see also ⇒ 1 Cor 15:15
and the note on ⇒ 1 Cor 2:1). The forms of his
testimony include oral preaching and instruction, his letters, and the life he
leads as an apostle.
[⇒ 1:10-⇒ 4:21] The
first problem Paul addresses is that of divisions within the community.
Although we are unable to reconstruct the situation in Corinth completely, Paul
clearly traces the divisions back to a false self-image on the part of the
Corinthians, coupled with a false understanding of the apostles who preached to
them (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 4:6,
9; ⇒ 9:1-5) and of the
Christian message itself. In these chapters he attempts to deal with those
underlying factors and to bring the Corinthians back to a more correct
5  I belong to: the activities of
Paul and Apollos in Corinth are described in Acts 18. Kephas (i.e., "the
Rock," a name by which Paul designates Peter also in ⇒ 1
Cor 3:22; ⇒ 9:5; ⇒ 15:5
and in ⇒ Gal 1:18; ⇒ 2:9,
⇒ 11, ⇒ 14) may well have
passed through Corinth; he could have baptized some members of the community
either there or elsewhere. The reference to Christ may be intended ironically
6 [13-17] The reference to baptism
and the contrast with preaching the gospel in v 17a suggest that some
Corinthians were paying special allegiance to the individuals who initiated
them into the community.
7 [17b-18] The basic theme of 1 Cor
1-4 is announced. Adherence to individual leaders has something to do with
differences in rhetorical ability and also with certain presuppositions
regarding wisdom, eloquence, and effectiveness (power), which Paul judges to be
in conflict with the gospel and the cross.
8 [17b] Not with the wisdom of human
eloquence: both of the nouns employed here involve several levels of meaning,
on which Paul deliberately plays as his thought unfolds. Wisdom (sophia) may be
philosophical and speculative, but in biblical usage the term primarily denotes
practical knowledge such as is demonstrated in the choice and effective
application of means to achieve an end. The same term can designate the arts of
building (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 3:10) or of persuasive
speaking (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 2:4) or effectiveness in
achieving salvation. Eloquence (logos): this translation emphasizes one possible
meaning of the term logos (cf the references to rhetorical style and
persuasiveness in ⇒ 1 Cor 2:1,
4). But the term itself may denote an internal
reasoning process, plan, or intention, as well as an external word, speech, or
message. So by his expression ouk en sophia logou in the context of gospel
preaching, Paul may intend to exclude both human ways of reasoning or thinking
about things and human rhetorical technique. Human: this adjective does not
stand in the Greek text but is supplied from the context. Paul will begin
immediately to distinguish between sophia and logos from their divine
counterparts and play them off against each other.
9 [21-25] True wisdom and power are
to be found paradoxically where one would least expect them, in the place of
their apparent negation. To human eyes the crucified Christ symbolizes
impotence and absurdity.
[⇒ 1:26-⇒ 2:5] The
pattern of God's wisdom and power is exemplified in their own experience, if
they interpret it rightly (⇒ 1 Cor 1:26-31), and
can also be read in their experience of Paul as he first appeared among them
preaching the gospel (⇒ 1 Cor 2:1-5).
11 [29-31] "Boasting (about
oneself)" is a Pauline expression for the radical sin, the claim to
autonomy on the part of a creature, the illusion that we live and are saved by
our own resources. "Boasting in the Lord" (⇒ 1 Cor
1:31), on the other hand, is the acknowledgment that we live only
from God and for God.
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