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Bible Commentaries

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

1 Corinthians 1



Other Authors
Verse 1

And Sosthenes. In Acts 18:12-17, an account is given of an attempt made by the Jews at Corinth to induce the Roman deputy to inflict punishment upon Paul for the offence of preaching Christianity; which attempt not only failed, but a reaction was produced in Paul's favor, so strong that the populace arose and took summary vengeance upon those who had made the attempt,--publicly beating a ruler of the synagogue, named Sosthenes, whom they appear to have regarded as the leader and representative of the hostility against Paul. It would seem that this Sosthenes afterwards became a Christian, and was now the apostle's friend and companion. His prominent position as ruler of the synagogue at Corinth, and the personal influence which would naturally be connected with it, were very probably the reason why his name was joined with that of the apostle in this communication. From the fact that the name is so joined, we may draw an important inference in respect to the nature of the authority which Paul assumed over the church at Corinth in this letter of reproof, viz., that it was personal, not official; an authority which he exercised in virtue of his character and station, and not that of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, over the church, in a technical sense. For it is only in the former case that the joining of any other name, however highly esteemed, with, his own, could be admissible at all. It would be a great addition to the strength of friendly reproofs and warnings, one entitled by his character and position to offer them, while it would be plainly irregular in a document intended to announce the decisions and directions of art official superior.

Verse 2

Called to be saints; that is, made so by the spontaneous grace of God.--With all, &c. This clause is connected with the word called. It does not mean that the Epistle was addressed to all other followers of Christ, but that they are all called to be saints. The intention of the apostle seems to be, to remind the Corinthian Christians, at the outset, that they, as well as all others, every where, who are looking to Jesus for salvation, were chosen and called by the Spirit of God, and transformed into the new image by his power.--Both theirs and ours, both their Lord and ours. These expressions, representing the whole community as one extended brotherhood, are evidently an appropriate introduction to an Epistle addressed to a church which was to be reproved for its internal dissensions.

Verse 5

Enriched by him; by Jesus Christ.--In all utterance, and in all knowledge; that is, in all the inward and outward traits and manifestations of piety.

Verse 6

The testimony of Christ; the evidence of the gospel of Christ.--Confirmed in you; made clear and convincing to your minds.

Verse 7

So that ye come behind in; are deficient in. No church had been more highly favored in respect to its spiritual blessings.

Verse 8

Confirm you unto the end; keep you unto the end. Having begun the work, he will carry it on, and make your salvation sure.--In the day of our Lord Jesus Christ; when he shall come to judge the world.

Verse 9

God is faithful; that is, to complete what he begins, as had been promised in the 1 Corinthians 1:8.

Verse 10

Speak the same thing; be harmonious.

Verse 11

Chloe; probably, a Christian matron residing at Corinth.

Verse 12

Apollos. He was a very able advocate of Christianity, who preached in Corinth soon after Paul left that place. (Acts 18:24-19:1.)--Cephas; one of the names by which Peter was designated. (John 1:42.) There is no reason, perhaps, to suppose that there were defined parties in the Corinthian church under these names, this language being probably intended only to express the general prevalence of a spirit of dissension arising out of the various personal preferences of individuals.

Verse 13

The meaning seems to be, Can you divide your one master, Christ, so as to make of him many masters, to lead you in separate divisions?--or Will you leave your Savior, and place yourselves under mere human leaders?

Verse 14

Crispus. He is mentioned, in Acts 18:8, as a distinguished convert Gaius was another prominent member of the Corinthian church, mentioned in Romans 16:23, as the one with whom Paul lodged.

Verse 16

Household; family.--I know not, &c.; that is, I do not recollect. When he mentioned Crispus and Gaius in the 1 Corinthians 1:14, he seems to have supposed that they were all, though the case of the family of Stephanas afterwards occurred to him. This circumstance, as well as his not being entirely sure that there might not have been even one or two other cases, shows that the nature of the inspiration of the sacred writers was such that it did not interfere with or suspend the ordinary operations of the mind. Its province was to direct and to guide, not to supersede, the natural faculties.

Verse 17

Wisdom of words; the power of eloquence and philosophy.--Lest the cross of Christ, &c.; lest he should tease to depend upon the simple presentation of the great fact that a Savior had died for sinners.

Verse 18

The preaching of the cross; the preaching of the death of Christ upon the cross, as a sacrifice for sin.--Is to them that perish, foolishness; that is, it seems so to them.

Verse 19

Isaiah 29:14.

Verse 20

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? What have these philosophers and learned men accomplished towards the moral improvement of mankind?

Verse 21

By wisdom; by their own wisdom.

Verse 22

A sign; some portentous prodigy as evidence of the Messiahship of Christ.--The Greeks seek wisdom; they are interested in nothing but acutely-defined schemes of philosophy.

Verse 25

The foolishness of God; that which appears to men, to be foolishness.

Verse 26

Your calling; that is, the nature of the Christian calling, in respect to the condition of the subjects of it, as specified below.--After the flesh; in the estimation of mankind.

Verse 28

Things which are not; which are of no consideration.

Verse 30

Of him are ye in Christ Jesus; that is, your being in Christ is the work of God, and glory of it is to be given to him, and not to any human instrument.


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Bibliography Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

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