JULY 15, 2012
Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Introduction to 1st Corinthians Chapter 1
A SALUTATION AND THANKSGIVING. 1:1-9
All Christians experience the new birth and by baptism are dedicated and devoted to Christ, and are under strict obligations to be holy. But in the true church of God, all are sanctified in Christ Jesus, all are called to be saints, all recognize Him as God manifest in the flesh and the source of all the blessings of salvation; furthermore, all acknowledge and obey him as their Lord, and as Lord of all; and no others are included. Christians are distinguished from the blasphemous and atheists, since they cannot live without prayer; and they are distinguished from Jews and pagans, because they call on the name of Christ. I hope you will notice how often in these verses the apostle repeats the words, “Our Lord Jesus Christ.” He feared that he might fail to mention Him frequently enough or not honor him enough. To all who called upon Christ, and were saved by grace through faith the apostle gave his usual salutation, desiring, on their behalf, the pardoning mercy, sanctifying grace, and comforting peace of God, through Jesus Christ. Sinners can have no peace with God, or receive peace from Him; that only comes through Christ. He gives thanks for their conversion to faith of Christ; that grace was given them by Jesus Christ. They had been enriched by Him with all spiritual gifts. He speaks of the Holy Spirit giving expression and knowledge. And where God has given these two gifts, He has given great power to men to make use of them. These were gifts of the Holy Ghost, by which God identified the apostles. Those that wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will be kept safe by him until the end; and those that are so kept, will be blameless in the day of Christ, made so by grace that is rich and free. How glorious and wonderful is such a privilege; to be kept by the power of Christ, from the power of our carnal nature and Satan's temptations!
MOTIVATION FOR BROTHERLY LOVE, AND REBUKE FOR DIVISIONS. 1:10-16
In the great things of religion we ought to be of one mind; but where there is not unity of opinion, there should still be brotherly love. Agreement in the greater things should quench divisions over the lesser things. There will be perfect unity in heaven, and the closer we come to it on earth, the closer we come to perfection. Paul and Apollos both were faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and valuable workers for their faith; but those inclined to be argumentative, created splits in the congregation. It is more likely that the best things will be corrupted, and the gospel and its institutions made a force for disagreement and conflict. Satan has always attempted stir up trouble among Christians, which is one of his chief devices against the gospel. The apostle left it to other ministers to baptize, while he focused on preaching the gospel, which he believed with his gift and mission.
THE DOCTRINE OF A CRUCIFIED SAVIOUR, AS ADVANCING THE GLORY OF GOD, 1:17-25
Paul had been brought 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 who are opposed to the advancement of Christianity. The sensual, the covetous, the proud, and ambitious, perceive that the gospel opposes their favorite activities. 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 heavenly paradise to follow the dictates of man's self-serving logic, and the event has shown that human wisdom is foolishness, 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 rightly be called foolish preaching. But the thing preached was foolishness to worldly men. The gospel has always been, and will always be, foolishness to all who walk down the road to destruction. The message of Christ, plainly delivered, has always been a sure criterion by which men may learn what road they are travelling down. But the despised doctrine of salvation by faith in a crucified Savior, God in human flesh, purchasing the church with his own blood, to save multitudes of those that believe, from ignorance, delusion, and sin, has been blessed in every age. And God uses the weakest instruments, but they have stronger effects, than the strongest men can use. Not that there is foolishness or weakness in God, even if men think there is such a flaw, and they will know it when He overcomes all their admired wisdom and strength.
AND HUMBLING THE CREATURE BEFORE HIM. 1:26-31
God did not choose the wise of the world; philosophers, orators, statesmen, men of wealth, and power, and men that are famous in the world, to publish the gospel of grace and peace. He knows 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 by this world’s values, has more true knowledge of the gospel, than those who have made the study of God’s word their lives, but they have studied it as if it was the word of mere men instead of what it really is, the word of God. And even young children have gained enough knowledge of Divine truth that they can silence infidels. The reason is, they are taught by God, and His plan is that no flesh should glory in His presence. That distinction, in which alone they might glory, was not of them. So, one may have wisdom and great knowledge only by the sovereign choice and regenerating grace of God that is born in those who are in Jesus Christ by faith. Christ is made by God to be to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; all we need, or can desire. And He is made wisdom to us, so that by His word and Spirit, and from His fullness and treasures of wisdom and knowledge, we may receive all that we need to make us wise unto salvation, and fit for every service to which we are called. We are guilty, and deserve to be punished; but He is made our righteousness, our great atonement and sacrifice. We are depraved and corrupt, and he is sanctified, so that, in the end, He may be our complete redemption, and free our soul from bondage to sin, and loose the body from the bonds of the grave. And why does He do all this for us—it is so that all flesh, according to the prophecy by Jeremiah, Jer 9:23-24, may glory in the special favor, all-sufficient grace, and precious salvation of Jehovah. I love Him so much!!