1 Corinthians 1

** The Corinthian church contained some Jews, but more Gentiles,

and the apostle had to contend with the superstition of the one,

and the sinful conduct of the other. The peace of this church

was disturbed by false teachers, who undermined the influence of

the apostle. Two parties were the result; one contending

earnestly for the Jewish ceremonies, the other indulging in

excesses contrary to the gospel, to which they were especially

led by the luxury and the sins which prevailed around them. This

epistle was written to rebuke some disorderly conduct, of which

the apostle had been apprized, and to give advice as to some

points whereon his judgment was requested by the Corinthians.

Thus the scope was twofold. 1. To apply suitable remedies to the

disorders and abuses which prevailed among them. 2. To give

satisfactory answers on all the points upon which his advice had

been desired. The address, and Christian mildness, yet firmness,

with which the apostle writes, and goes on from general truths

directly to oppose the errors and evil conduct of the

Corinthians, is very remarkable. He states the truth and the

will of God, as to various matters, with great force of argument

and animation of style.

* A salutation and thanksgiving. (1-9) Exhortation to brotherly

love, and reproof for divisions. (10-16) The doctrine of a

crucified Saviour, as advancing the glory of God, (17-25) and

humbling the creature before him. (26-31)

1-9 All Christians are by baptism dedicated and devoted to

Christ, and are under strict obligations to be holy. But in the

true church of God are all who are sanctified in Christ Jesus,

called to be saints, and who call upon him as God manifest in

the flesh, for all the blessings of salvation; who acknowledge

and obey him as their Lord, and as Lord of all; it includes no

other persons. Christians are distinguished from the profane and

atheists, that they dare not live without prayer; and they are

distinguished from Jews and pagans, that they call on the name

of Christ. Observe how often in these verses the apostle repeats

the words, Our Lord Jesus Christ. He feared not to make too

frequent or too honourable mention of him. To all who called

upon Christ, the apostle gave his usual salutation, desiring, in

their behalf, the pardoning mercy, sanctifying grace, and

comforting peace of God, through Jesus Christ. Sinners can have

no peace with God, nor any from him, but through Christ. He

gives thanks for their conversion to the faith of Christ; that

grace was given them by Jesus Christ. They had been enriched by

him with all spiritual gifts. He speaks of utterance and

knowledge. And where God has given these two gifts, he has given

great power for usefulness. These were gifts of the Holy Ghost,

by which God bore witness to the apostles. Those that wait for

the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, will be kept by him to the

end; and those that are so, will be blameless in the day of

Christ, made so by rich and free grace. How glorious are the

hopes of such a privilege; to be kept by the power of Christ,

from the power of our corruptions and Satan's temptations!
10-16 In the great things of religion be of one mind; and where

there is not unity of sentiment, still let there be union of

affection. Agreement in the greater things should extinguish

divisions about the lesser. There will be perfect union in

heaven, and the nearer we approach it on earth, the nearer we

come to perfection. Paul and Apollos both were faithful

ministers of Jesus Christ, and helpers of their faith and joy;

but those disposed to be contentious, broke into parties. So

liable are the best things to be corrupted, and the gospel and

its institutions made engines of discord and contention. Satan

has always endeavoured to stir up strife among Christians, as

one of his chief devices against the gospel. The apostle left it

to other ministers to baptize, while he preached the gospel, as

a more useful work.
17-25 Paul had been bred up in Jewish learning; but the plain

preaching of a crucified Jesus, was more powerful than all the

oratory and philosophy of the heathen world. This is the sum and

substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of

all our hopes, the fountain of all our joys. And by his death we

live. The preaching of salvation for lost sinners by the

sufferings and death of the Son of God, if explained and

faithfully applied, appears foolishness to those in the way to

destruction. The sensual, the covetous, the proud, and

ambitious, alike see that the gospel opposes their favourite

pursuits. But those who receive the gospel, and are enlightened

by the Spirit of God, see more of God's wisdom and power in the

doctrine of Christ crucified, than in all his other works. God

left a great part of the world to follow the dictates of man's

boasted reason, and the event has shown that human wisdom is

folly, and is unable to find or retain the knowledge of God as

the Creator. It pleased him, by the foolishness of preaching, to

save them that believe. By the foolishness of preaching; not by

what could justly be called foolish preaching. But the thing

preached was foolishness to wordly-wise men. The gospel ever

was, and ever will be, foolishness to all in the road to

destruction. The message of Christ, plainly delivered, ever has

been a sure touchstone by which men may learn what road they are

travelling. But the despised doctrine of salvation by faith in a

crucified Saviour, God in human nature, purchasing the church

with his own blood, to save multitudes, even all that believe,

from ignorance, delusion, and vice, has been blessed in every

age. And the weakest instruments God uses, are stronger in their

effects, than the strongest men can use. Not that there is

foolishness or weakness in God, but what men consider as such,

overcomes all their admired wisdom and strength.
26-31 God did not choose philosophers, nor orators, nor

statesmen, nor men of wealth, and power, and interest in the

world, to publish the gospel of grace and peace. He best judges

what men and what measures serve the purposes of his glory.

Though not many noble are usually called by Divine grace, there

have been some such in every age, who have not been ashamed of

the gospel of Christ; and persons of every rank stand in need of

pardoning grace. Often, a humble Christian, though poor as to

this world, has more true knowledge of the gospel, than those

who have made the letter of Scripture the study of their lives,

but who have studied it rather as the witness of men, than as

the word of God. And even young children have gained such

knowledge of Divine truth as to silence infidels. The reason is,

they are taught of God; the design is, that no flesh should

glory in his presence. That distinction, in which alone they

might glory, was not of themselves. It was by the sovereign

choice and regenerating grace of God, that they were in Jesus

Christ by faith. He is made of God to us wisdom, righteousness,

sanctification, and redemption; all we need, or can desire. And

he is made wisdom to us, that by his word and Spirit, and from

his fulness and treasures of wisdom and knowledge, we may

receive all that will make us wise unto salvation, and fit for

every service to which we are called. We are guilty, liable to

just punishment; and he is made righteousness, our great

atonement and sacrifice. We are depraved and corrupt, and he is

made sanctification, that he may in the end be made complete

redemption; may free the soul from the being of sin, and loose

the body from the bonds of the grave. And this is, that all

flesh, according to the prophecy by Jeremiah, #Jer 9:23-24|, may

glory in the special favour, all-sufficient grace, and precious

salvation of Jehovah.

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