Tuesday 07 May 2019

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

So let no-one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the past or the future – all belongs to you. (vs. 21-22)

1 Corinthians 3:18-23 Tuesday 7 May 2019

Psalm: Psalm 122


Ancient Corinth was an extraordinary place, the principle city in the Roman province of Achaia. It was situated on an isthmus with access to both the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea and was strategically placed in relation to the trading routes in and around the Mediterranean area. Consequently, it had a large and cosmopolitan population, including a significant Jewish community. Many different religions were represented among the citizens, including cults of the Roman emperor, of Egyptian gods and of the Greek pantheon of gods. Different philosophies and ‘wisdoms’ abounded and the ability to debate and to reason was greatly esteemed. Such was the context in which Paul was writing to Christians young in faith and vulnerable to a plethora of external influences.

Paul wanted to stress two things in this part of his letter. The first was to emphasise again that God’s wisdom was very different to the kind of wisdom to which they had become accustomed (v. 19), the wisdom of society around them. This is outlined in detail earlier in the letter (1:18-25) and now he repeated the point, quoting from the Old Testament in support of his argument (Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11).

The second was to reiterate that human leaders, however worthy, belong to the people and not the other way round! This is the third time Paul mentioned specific leaders, including himself, by name (1:11-13; 3:5-6), making the same point: theirs is a servant role. Note that he includes Cephas (Peter); was Peter already the Rock on which the Church was built (Matthew 16:18) – or had he also been to Corinth?

This was foolishness to those accustomed to the power and authority of leaders in society. Perhaps it may seem foolish to us too. For those in positions of leadership, it is challenging to resist the temptation to be seen as having superior wisdom and knowledge. However, in the last analysis, our faith is founded on one who died on a cross, "a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1:23-24)


To Ponder: 

  • Think of those who have led you to faith and on the way they did this.
  • Has there been a time when you were tempted to play ‘the wise one’ in things of faith? Do you feel foolish about that now?
  • How do you handle the wisdom of the world when it seems so different to the wisdom of God?
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