11 February 2015

1 Corinthians 1:20-31

"We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (vv. 23-24)

Psalm: Psalm 106:43-48


Having reprimanded the Corinthian Christians for their divisions (see yesterday's passage), Paul develops his thoughts and takes a more outward-facing perspective. He is following on from his admission that Christ sent him to proclaim the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17).

And, for Paul, the gospel (the good news of Jesus) centred on the cross and Christ crucified. After 2,000 years of history, it can be easy to forget, or not even to be aware, of how radical the cross is.

For the many of the Jewish people at that time, it was incredible that the one God has especially chosen - God's son, Jesus - should be allowed to die on a cross. Rather than proving that Jesus was God's son it did the opposite and became the ultimate stumbling block.

For the Greeks it seems as if the death of Jesus on the cross was complete foolishness. The Greeks believed that God lacked the ability to feel emotion or compassion - people were their playthings. Yet here was God prepared to 'become flesh and live among us' (John 1:14), and so in humanity to experience joy and pain (ie emotions). Not only that, but to undergo suffering suffering - that was a step too far for their conprehension. It was a nonsense - or foolishness.

But what did was to turn the world upside down - "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are,  so that no one might boast in the presence of God" (vv. 27-29).

To Ponder

  • How does God turn your world upside down?
  • What does it mean to you to "boast in the Lord" (v. 31)?
  • If someone asked what does the cross mean to you, what would you say?

Bible notes author

Ken Kingston

Ken Kingston preaches in the High Wycombe Circuit. He has worked for the Connexional Team since 1992 in a variety of roles and has been involved in 'Called by Name' and 'Time to Talk of God' amongst others.