1 Cor 1 & 2 - why following a crucified Jew changes everything

As we saw last week, Corinth was a city where status, money and wisdom were valued. The Corinthian church was following Jesus, but the people were still influenced by the values of their society. In this section of his letter, Paul challenges these values by explaining that despite the apparent foolishness of the Christian message, the ‘averageness’ of the Corinthian church and the weakness of Paul as messenger, God’s power proves stronger and wiser than they can imagine.

Read 1 Corinthians 1:18 – 2:5

  • What is the message of the cross (v18), and how could it be considered foolishness? (Both to the Jews and Greeks of Corinth and also to us today)
  • Why do you think God’s wisdom and worldly wisdom have to be at odds? Why is it that the world works this way?

In verse 19 Paul quotes from Isaiah 29:14. When Old Testament verses are quoted in the New Testament the original recipients would have known the context and the verses surrounding the quote would have immediately come to mind.

  • Read Isaiah 29:13-16. How does reading these verses in Isaiah enrich your understanding of 1 Cor 19?
  • Read 1 Cor 26 – 31 again. Who are the weak and lowly? What is God’s purpose in choosing them?
  • How is this consistent with how God acts throughout the whole bible? Read these passages for some examples:
    • 1 Samuel 2:1-10
    • Luke 1:46-55
    • Matthew 21:28-32 (esp. v31b)
  • Paul quotes again from the Old Testament in verse 31, this time from Jeremiah. Read Jeremiah 9:23-24. Do you gain any new insights into God or the Corinthians passage by reading this one from Jeremiah?
  • Do we stay weak and lowly in God’s eyes? (Hint: see Verse 30)
  • In 2:1 Paul claims not to have eloquence or wisdom. Read 2 Cor 10:10 for a bit more insight.
  • If you consider yourself a Christian now, did an eloquent, well-polished preacher lead you to that commitment? Or was it something a bit messier?
  • Do you think Paul is saying that we should not seek to be wise and influential, or to be excellent in our speech and abilities?
  • Does Paul’s example help you when you think about telling others about Jesus?
  • As you think about the things you have planned for the rest of the week, how will God’s reversal of conventional wisdom and his use of the weak influence the attitude in which you will do them?