1 Corinthians; The calling and the cross

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posted on Sep, 23 2013 @ 05:02 PM
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Among the writings of Paul, 1 Corinthians is the letter which teaches the church what it means to be a Christian community.
The opening verses (ch1 vv1-9) have the effect of defining where the church comes from and what it’s based on, and I will want to show how the rest of the teaching follows on from that.
I was drawing out a definition of the church in the attached thread;
Defining the church
Part of the definition was that the church has been “called” by God.
So the next concern is how this calling comes through the event of the Cross (ch1 vv17-25).

v17 The starting-point is Paul’s observation that he was not sent to preach the gospel with “eloquent wisdom” (literally “wisdom of word”).
If he had preached in this way, then the Cross of Christ would have been “emptied of its Power”.

A little background- not too much, because the internal conditions of Corinth are no part of my brief.
Paul began the main body of his letter by complaining about the internal divisions in Corinth.
There were people claiming to “belong to” different leaders.
Part of Paul’s response is to be thankful that he gave personal baptism to very few of them.
This suggests that at least one of the groups (perhaps “I belong to Cephas”) was over-concerned about being baptised by the “right” person.
Then comes the remark about “eloquent wisdom”, which suggests that at least one of the groups (perhaps “I belong to Apollos) was over-concerned in that direction.
This prompts him to launch into the argument that the rejection of “wisdom” , in the human sense of that word, is the very essence of the nature of “the Cross”.

v18 He finds two different classes of people- “those who are perishing” and “those who are being saved”.
(These words are in the present tense, not the past tense.
So not “the lost and the saved”, strictly speaking- just moving in that direction.)
They experience and understand “the Cross” in different ways.
For the first group, the Cross is classed as “folly”, the opposite of “wisdom”.
We might expect the second group to understand it as God’s version of “Wisdom”.
For the moment, though, Paul goes back to the word “Power”.

vv19-20 But these reactions are simply showing (as Paul illustrates from Isaiah) that God has always been ready to “overthrow the wisdom of the world”.

v21 For the Wisdom of God has made a policy decision;
It is not appropriate that “the world” should come to know God by means of human wisdom.
I can suggest one possible reason, namely that if they could achieve this by their own wisdom, they would be achieving it independently.
Their wisdom would be another Babel, taking them heavenward in their own strength.

It is more fitting that the gap should be bridged in a different way- four different ways.
It is God who is acting, not the world.
God is actively “saving”, not passively being discovered.
The proclamation of the gospel is “folly”, in human terms, not human wisdom.
And God is saving the “believers”, not the wise men of the world.

The result is that knowledge of God does not come from self-dependence.
It comes from “faith”, which is the act of throwing oneself upon God in trust.

vv22-24 Paul now spells out exactly what it is that makes the Cross “folly”.
The gospel confronts two different groups of people.
The Jews are looking for evidence of God in “signs”, visible acts of power.
The Greeks- by which Paul means the rest of the world- are looking for evidence of God in “wisdom”, arguments accessible to reason.
Both viewpoints are “human wisdom” in terms of the previous verses, because they’re both about human expectations.
In their different ways, they’re sitting in judgement on God and trying to measure him by their own standards.
The gospel of “Christ crucified” frustrates both demands.
Death seems to be a sign of weakness, the opposite of “signs of power”, which makes it a “stumbling-block” for the Jews.
No doubt it was used already as one of their standard arguments against the gospel.
While death claimed as a victory seems to be a paradox, which makes it “folly” to the Greeks.
It makes as much sense as getting to the front of a line by moving backwards (I’ll explain that allusion in a second post).

v25 But what these people call weakness is really the Power of God, stronger than anything men can provide.
And what these people call folly is really the Wisdom of God, wiser than anything men can provide.
That reversal of understanding is the essence of the Cross.
And the church is founded on that paradox.

That was why, as Paul explains at the beginning of the next chapter, he had taught among them “nothing but Christ crucified”- ch2 v2.
In fact the paradox of the Cross was not just in the content of his teaching, but also in the manner of his teaching, which had been “in fear and trembling”, rather than in “ in plausible words of wisdom”.
The result (which brings us back to the starting-point) was that their faith was not resting on the wisdom of men, but upon the power of God- ch2 vv3-5

At the end of this chapter, Paul observes how God’s preference for the non-obvious is demonstrated by his choice of people, as they can see for themselves- vv26-29
For they are the more “weak and foolish” of their own society, rather than the “wise and powerful”, who have enough confidence in themselves to despise the state of dependence.
The church that has been called by God is very different from the church that would have been called by the world.

And that is the point.
God is reversing the world’s understanding of “wisdom and folly”, and reversing the world’s understanding of “power and weakness”.
In short, he is reversing the world’s understanding.
And the reversal of understanding is necessary because God is not the world.

The way that the church is called, through this paradox of the Cross, reflects the fact that the calling does not come from the world, but comes to call them away from the world.
It is a calling which comes from God.




posted on Sep, 23 2013 @ 06:02 PM
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It makes as much sense as getting to the front of a line by moving backwards


I promised to explain this allusion.
It goes back to the time when I accidentally discovered the winning strategy for the game of Musical Chairs.
I began with an unfair advantage, because I was ten years older than the other contestants.
This was at the Christmas party at the school where my parents were the teachers.

The children followed the strategy of pressing close to one another in order to claim seats. Each kept a hand on the seat he was just leaving behind, each was pressing forward to contest the claim of the child in front.
I stayed out of this melee and held back a little.
But of course we were all moving in a circle.
So the effect of this “holding back” approach was that I found myself at the front of a slightly compressed line, which meant there was space and a guaranteed seat in front of me.
This happened in every round, which was enough to win me the game.

Since then, this phenomenon of “getting to the front by holding back” has been a favourite mental image for the fact that the best way of achieving something may be the exact opposite of the most obvious method.
“Winning a victory by dying” certainly comes into this category.



posted on Sep, 23 2013 @ 06:54 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


I only get confused when I read Paul and from my point of view god is anything but confusing when you are ready to listen to what really is and not what humans say is in both religions and science. I have seen a few tricks that are amazing and a big eyeopener about reality.

Paul is for me the confuser who turns people away to make sure only the ones with the highest ideals reach the gate while the garmented ones follow Pauls direction.

If you can find the opposite with your mind then you might be seeing somethings I cannot with my concisousness. If you end up inside the gate with Pauls direction then you might have made Paul into the tool it was meant to be and I was not able to. But there are many tools for the same purpose and I am kinda happy with my toolbox at the moment.



posted on Sep, 23 2013 @ 07:12 PM
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reply to post by LittleByLittle
 

Or maybe Paul is right, that we confuse ourselves by trying to turn God into something we can contain within our own understanding.
The death of Christ was there before Paul came along, and already a problem. He's just the one who points out why it needs to be a problem.



posted on Sep, 23 2013 @ 07:51 PM
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Many try to say that Paul is a false apostle, yet everything he teaches directs one to God. We are only strong in our weaknesses we are to esteem others before ourselves. People try to say that Paul taught a easy grace message but he taught that one knows oneself and others by their fruit and if there is no fruit of the Spirit then the vines should be thrown into the fire and burnt. As you stated we gain life though death what a message that is in its self. And it is all gained by the work of the cross and what Christ did there.



posted on Sep, 23 2013 @ 08:23 PM
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reply to post by guitarplayer
 

Yes indeed.
Not so much "easy grace" as a recognition that we don't stand much chance without it.



posted on Sep, 23 2013 @ 08:38 PM
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DISRAELI
reply to post by guitarplayer
 

Yes indeed.
Not so much "easy grace" as a recognition that we don't stand much chance without it.



Years ago I read a parody on the Sermon on the Mount by Keith Green and the subject of greasy grace it was quite good.



posted on Sep, 24 2013 @ 05:09 PM
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The Corinthians might well have asked “What bearing does all this have on the problem of church disunity, which is where this discussion started?”

The connection is not direct, of course because the effect of the paradox of the Cross is to leave the frustrated “Jews” and “Greeks” outside the church altogether.
Paul might have suggested, perhaps, that the “wisdom” which some of the Corinthians valued was only a milder version of the kind of “wisdom” which rejected the gospel, and should be treated with caution.
He might also have suggested that the high value which some of them placed on the visible act of baptism was only a milder version of the high value which the Jews placed on visible “signs of power”, and might be equally misplaced.
Thus his point would be that they were indanger of drifting away from the gospel which they had learned



posted on Sep, 24 2013 @ 06:20 PM
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I do not intend to go through the whole of 1 Corinthians systematically.
It will only be a selection of passages.
This series has been inspired, indirectly, by the commentary written by Hans Conzellman.
In his comments on the first verse in ch6 (a passage which I do not intend to cover) he remarks that “The criterion of conduct is accordingly found in the nature of the community”.
In effect, I have taken this dictum and made it a guideline for a major part of the epistle.
The premise is that Paul’s teaching here is largely about getting the church to live up to the description of itself which he supplies in the opening verses.
The way this works will become evident in the different stages.

(It has to be said, though, that I increasingly find Robertson and Plummer more reliable on points of detail).



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 04:15 AM
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1 Cor 1:10
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.

Paul states it over and over, there is one faith, one belief, that we all speak the same, no schisms. Here is another verse to show the same. Christ established one faith, so logically one Church. All the schismatics, heretics broke away from the one faith, Roman Catholicism.

Ephesians 4:1-6
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all."

Alleluia!!!

Hang on, it could happen next year, the Great Warning, God's divine gift to show the world in a dramatic way, the true faith and warn of the anti-Christ. Remember and give your YES to God.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 07:37 AM
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Very well presented D ...I would like to add this tid bit of history ..Jacques Cartier from mid-November 1535 to mid-April 1536, the French fleet lay frozen solid at the mouth of the St. Charles River with 110 men .Scurvy broke out and On a visit by Domagaya to the French fort, Cartier inquired and learned from him that a concoction made from a tree bark would cure scurvy. This remedy likely saved the expedition from destruction, allowing 85 Frenchmen to survive the winter. In his journal, Cartier states that by mid-February, "out of 110 that we were, not ten were well enough to help the others, a pitiful thing to see". The Frenchmen used up the bark of an entire tree in a week on the cure, and the dramatic results prompted Cartier to proclaim it a Godsend, and a miracle .excerpt from en.wikipedia.org...

Apparently Cartier himself did not believe that the concoction would work at first but the situation got to the point that the men were willing to try anything .It was only after seeing his men's health improve that he humbly excepted the foolish cure the savages had provided .. Ah yes the wisdom of men...peace



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 05:11 PM
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reply to post by the2ofusr1
 

Thank you for adding that comment.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 05:17 PM
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reply to post by colbe
 


Need I ask you again to stay on topic?
Do you understand the concept of staying on topic? You know- sticking to the subject on hand?

This thread is about God calling people out of the world through the event of the cross.
Can you, therefore, get away from your monomaniacal obsession just for a momemt and focus on God calling non-believers through the cross?


edit on 25-9-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 06:15 PM
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Do the parties of “I belong to Apollos” and “I belong to Cephas” have any descendants at the present day?

I suggested in the OP that one of the groups, which might be “I belong to Cephas” was over-concerned, in Paul’s opinion, with being baptised by the “right” person.
It might not be too fanciful to see their descendants in all those who attach a great deal of importance to the correctness of ecclesiastical “succession”, especially those emphasising the succession from Peter himself.

And it is obvious from the whole letter that another group, which might be “I belong to Apollos”, was putting excessive trust in “eloquent wisdom”.
It may not be too fanciful to see their descendants in those modern Christians who try to rationalise the gospel faith out of existence, or else try to take it in a more “gnostic” direction.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 08:58 PM
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reply to post by colbe
 


The one faith one church is the body of Christ.



posted on Sep, 25 2013 @ 10:03 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 
Thank you D .I do believe we just witnessed a home run ....spot on ....peace



posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 08:19 AM
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DISRAELI
The Corinthians might well have asked “What bearing does all this have on the problem of church disunity, which is where this discussion started?”

The connection is not direct, of course because the effect of the paradox of the Cross is to leave the frustrated “Jews” and “Greeks” outside the church altogether.
Paul might have suggested, perhaps, that the “wisdom” which some of the Corinthians valued was only a milder version of the kind of “wisdom” which rejected the gospel, and should be treated with caution.
He might also have suggested that the high value which some of them placed on the visible act of baptism was only a milder version of the high value which the Jews placed on visible “signs of power”, and might be equally misplaced.
Thus his point would be that they were indanger of drifting away from the gospel which they had learned


Maybe the cross gives something more. But what about chakras that are told about in other religions where you become a tool for pushing the light around you from god and can sense god and directly get the guiding you need? Just because you are born into Christianety does not automatically mean you have been born into the place where humans have most level of wisdom. We all get the lessons we are ready for.



posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 05:33 PM
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reply to post by LittleByLittle
 

This is beginning to move into the theme of the second chapter.
In the present chapter, Paul's point is that understanding of the Cross cannot come through human wisdom.
The message of the next chapter is that we can only have knowledge of the Cross because we have received the Spirit of God;
"What no man has seen...God has revealed to us through the Spirit...No-one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God". ch2 vv9-11
I intend to look at that next time.

The necessity of techniques for "opening" chakras would probably, in Paul's eyes, bring them under his critique of "human wisdom".
I certainly doubt whether anyone has, in practice, come to understand the event of the Cross through the medium of "chakras". It's a different belief-system entirely.




edit on 26-9-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 26 2013 @ 06:43 PM
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One of the “party cries” which Paul complains about is “I belong to Christ”, which makes scholars wonder if there was also a distinct “Christ party”.
Now it seems to me that “I belong to Christ” is precisely anyone should be saying, who understands Paul’s point that we belong to Christ rather than individual teachers.
If there was a group of people saying “I belong to Christ”, he ought to be approving them.
I suggest the explanation is that the trouble was really coming only from two parties, that is “I belong to Apollos” and “I belong to Cephas”.
However, Paul throws in the two extra slogans “I belong to Paul” and “I belong to Christ” in order to address his complaint against “faction” as such, and soften the impression that he’s directly attacking the other two parties.
In fact the “wisdom” group, which is probably the followers of Apollos, is the only group which receives much criticism in the rest of the letter, so it’s possible that even “I belong to Cephas” has been thrown in to lessen the danger that the people of Apollos will take it all personally.



posted on Sep, 27 2013 @ 05:10 PM
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This thread follows on from the attached thread;

Defining the church





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