1 Corinthians 1: Wisdom and Foolishness

We know of Sosthenes from Acts 18:17 where he was leader of the Synagogue in Corinth, prosecuting the Jewish case against Paul. What circumstances might have caused him to become Paul’s friend?

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Acts 18:17 While still before the judgment seat, the Greeks seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him. Yet Gallio didn’t care to intervene.
1 Corinthians 1:1 From Paul, called to be a messenger of the Lord Jesus Christ by the will of God, writing to you with the help of our friend Sosthenes.
King James
Acts 18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother.

Why do you think Sosthenes is mentioned in the writing of this letter?

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1 Corinthians 1:1 From Paul, called to be a messenger of the Lord Jesus Christ by the will of God, writing to you with the help of our friend Sosthenes.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother.

Some translations address the letter to those who are “calling upon the name of Jesus Christ.” What do you think Paul meant by that identification?

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1 Corinthians 1:1 From Paul, called to be a messenger of the Lord Jesus Christ by the will of God, writing to you with the help of my friend Sosthenes,
1:2 to the assembly of God’s people in Corinth, those who belong to Jesus Christ, everywhere acting under his direction and authority to fulfill his purpose.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
1:2 unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

In asking God’s favor upon the believers, was Paul expressing a courtesy or a sincere prayer? Why?

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1 Corinthians 1:3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ favor you with peace and contentment.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

How would you describe the nature of the blessings that Paul was thankful for?

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1 Corinthians 1:4 I continually thank God for the blessing you have in Jesus Christ.
1:5 In everything you think, say, and do, you are enriched by him.
1:6 The truth about Jesus is revealed through your life story.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.

In what ways does God enrich people’s lives?

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1 Corinthians 1:5 In everything you think, say, and do, you are enriched by him.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.

How does our life story reveal the truth about Jesus?

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1 Corinthians 1:6 The truth about Jesus is revealed through your life story.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.

When did believers expect the Lord to return? How might this anticipation have affected their thoughts and actions?

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1 Corinthians 1:7 Until the Lord returns, you will not lack any resources needed to fulfill his purpose in your lives.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In what ways does the Lord stand with people?

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Matthew 18:19 Also, I need to say, if two of my followers here on earth agree in prayer, it will be done by my Father in heaven
18:20 because I am present whenever two or three are gathered under my direction and authority.
1 Corinthians 1:8 He will stand with you in every situation, keeping you free from all blame until he returns.
King James
Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
1 Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What are the benefits and side effects of a relationship with Jesus Christ?

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1 Corinthians 1:9 God will take care of you because of his relationship with you through his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we should be working in harmony, what is the root cause of disharmony?

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1 Corinthians 1:10 My fellow believers, since all of you work under the direction and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, you should be speaking the same things, with common goals, living in harmony with one another.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Concerning the church in Corinth, why do you think Paul didn’t choose to conceal the name of his information source?

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1 Corinthians 1:11 From the household of Chloe, I have heard about contentions within your fellowship.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

In what ways might loyalty to different ministers in the Corinthian church be similar to denominational differences in churches today?

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1 Corinthians 1:12 Some of you say, “I follow Paul.” Others say they follow Apollos or Peter, and some claim allegiance to Christ.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

What should be the unifying factor for all Christians?

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1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided into opposing factions? Of course not. Was I crucified for you, or were you baptized in my name? No.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Why would people think they needed to identify themselves with who baptized them?

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1 Corinthians 1:14 I thank God that I only baptized Crispus and Gaius,
1:15 or you might claim to be of Paul’s baptism.
1:16 I also baptized the household of Stephanus, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else. I want no part in these divisions.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
1:15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.
1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

How might Paul’s actions in baptism have been similar to what Jesus did?

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John 4:2 Actually, it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.
1 Corinthians 1:17 Jesus sent me to preach the good news of his Kingdom, not to baptize. I’ve not used fancy words that would call attention to me as some great leader, because that would have killed the power of the message, causing Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to have no effect.
King James
John 4:2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Why is the Christian message foolishness to others?

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1 Corinthians 1:18 To the unbeliever, talking about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is foolishness. But for us who have been forgiven and have found new life in Christ, it is a message of God’s life-changing power.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

How do wonders and miracles reveal human ignorance?

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1 Corinthians 1:19 Isaiah wrote what God said he would do: I will do wonders among these unbelievers, the most amazing miracles that show the stupidity of their wisdom and expose their lack of intelligence.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

What makes worldly wisdom look foolish?

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1 Corinthians 1:20 You’ll remember past terrors and ask, “Where are the oppressors—the rulers who flaunted their strength, the rich who counted their money, the entrepreneurs who boasted of their success?” Hasn’t God made worldly wisdom look foolish?
King James
1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

How is it possible to be wise and not recognize God’s existence?

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1 Corinthians 1:21 While the world in all its wisdom fails to recognize God’s existence, God takes great pleasure in this message that some regard as foolishness, because those who choose to believe will be saved.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

In what ways do you think the Jewish perception of truth differed from the Greeks?

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1 Corinthians 1:22 The Jews keep demanding proof, and others keep trying to figure it out.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.

How did Paul’s approach to truth differ from the Jews and the Greeks?

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1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach the truth of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the others.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.

How would you describe the difference between studying about God and knowing him?

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1 Corinthians 1:24 Those who hear God’s voice and accept his call, whether Jew or non-Jew, experience his wisdom and power through knowing Jesus Christ.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Of what value is our recognition that God’s knowledge and power is profoundly greater than ours?

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1 Corinthians 1:25 The least of God’s knowledge is greater than the highest understanding of all human beings combined, and God is stronger than all the power that humanity can collectively produce.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Why might knowing God’s purpose for your life be more important than identifying your talents?

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1 Corinthians 1:26 Friends, look at what you know about God’s purpose for your lives, and you will see that he seldom calls people according to their superior talents or social status.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

What is God’s purpose in using our weaknesses instead of our strengths?

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1 Corinthians 1:27 God uses what the world regards as foolishness to embarrass those who think they are so smart. Through our weaknesses, he will do mighty things that confound those who hold positions of power.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

How would you contrast the difference between God’s gifts with the world’s definition of blessing and success?

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1 Corinthians 1:28 Using the insignificant and the trivial, what the world thinks amounts to nothing, God will show that the world’s evidence of success actually amounts to nothing,
1:29 allowing people no right to boast of their own greatness.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1:29 that no flesh should glory in his presence.

What should the basis of our boasting be?

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Jeremiah 9:24 If anyone is inclined to boast,” God says, “don’t brag about your intellect and talent. Boast that you know me and understand my ways, of your relationship with God, who brings unfailing love, justice, and righteousness to the earth, for that kind of pride pleases me.”
Luke 10:17 When the seventy-two returned, they said with delight, “Sir, we even commanded the evil spirits in your name!”
10:18 “So what?” Jesus said. “I have seen Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
10:19 Sure, I have given you authority to trample snakes and scorpions and have power over the enemy, so nothing can harm you in any way.
10:20 However, you should not rejoice that evil spirits obey your commands. Instead, rejoice because your citizenship in heaven has been recorded.”
Romans 2:17 If you claim to be a Christian, recognized for your faith and righteousness, boasting of your relationship with God,
2:18 then you know from Scripture what God wants and should always be on your best behavior.
1 Corinthians 1:28 Using the insignificant and the trivial, what the world thinks amounts to nothing, God will show that the world’s evidence of success actually amounts to nothing,
1:29 allowing people no right to boast of their own greatness.
1:31 As Jeremiah wrote:”If anyone is inclined to boast,” God says, “don’t brag about your intellect and talent. Boast that you know me, for that kind of pride pleases me.
King James
Jeremiah 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
Romans 2:17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
2:18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law.
1 Corinthians 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1:29 that no flesh should glory in his presence.
1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Of what value is our knowledge and ability?

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1 Corinthians 1:30 Everything you are—abundant in knowledge and strength, forgiven and made righteous, filled with the desire to please God—you owe it all to your relationship with Jesus.
King James
1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.