1 Corinthians 1
1 Paul, called out by God’s will to be an emissary[a] for Jesus the Anointed, along with brother Sosthenes, 2 to God’s church gathering in the city of Corinth. As people who are united with Jesus, the Anointed One, you have been set apart for service. You are all called into community to live as saints with all who invoke the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed
3 I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, will shower you with grace and peace.
4 I am continuously thanking my God for you when I think about the grace God has offered you in Jesus the Anointed. 5 In this grace, God is enriching every aspect of your lives by gifting you with the right words to say and everything you need to know. 6 In this way, your life story confirms the life story of the Anointed One, 7 so you are not ill-equipped or slighted on any necessary gifts as you patiently anticipate the day when our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, is revealed. 8 Until that final day, He will preserve you; and on that day, He will consider you faultless. 9 Count on this: God is faithful and in His faithfulness called you out into an intimate relationship with His Son, our Lord Jesus the Anointed.
10 My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create division among you. Instead, be restored, completely fastened together with one mind and shared judgment. 11 I have heard troubling reports from Chloe’s people that you, my siblings, are consumed by fighting and petty disagreements. 12 What I have heard is that each of you is taking sides, saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with the Anointed One.” 13 Has the Anointed One been split up into many small pieces? Do you think Paul was crucified for you? Were you ceremonially washed through baptism[b] into the name of Paul? Absolutely not!
Paul knows that if the work of Jesus’ gospel degenerates into a cult of personality, it will hardly resemble true Christianity. If the focus is on Paul, Cephas, Apollos, or any famous religious leader, then that distracts from the person and central message of Jesus. Any cult of personality is intoxicating, and it is often easier to claim to follow a person who can be seen and touched. But Christianity is founded upon the belief that Jesus is the head of the church and that all of His followers serve His will as a part of the royal priesthood.
14 Now I am thankful that I baptized[c] only Crispus and Gaius, 15 so none of you can falsely declare you were baptized in my name. 16 Now wait, as I think about it, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; if there are others in your community whom I baptized, I cannot recall at this moment. 17 The mission given to me by the Anointed One is not about baptism, but about preaching good news. The point is not to impress others by spinning an eloquent, intellectual argument; that type of rhetorical showboating would only nullify the cross of the Anointed.
18 For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. 19 This is why the Scripture says:
I will put an end to the wisdom of the so-called wise,
and I will invalidate the insight of your so-called experts.[d]
20 So now, where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the skilled debater, the best of your time? Step up, if you dare. Hasn’t God made fools out of those who count on the wisdom of this rebellious, broken world? 21 For in God’s deep wisdom, He made it so that the world could not even begin to comprehend Him through its own style of wisdom; in fact, God took immense pleasure in rescuing people of faith through the foolishness of the message we preach. 22 It seems the Jews are always asking for signs and the Greeks are always on the prowl for wisdom. 23 But we tell a different story. We proclaim a crucified Jesus, God’s Anointed. For Jews this is scandalous, for outsiders[e] this is moronic, 24 but for those of us living out God’s call—regardless of our Jewish or Greek heritage—we know the Anointed embodies God’s dynamic power and God’s deep wisdom. 25 You can count on this: God’s foolishness will always be wiser than mere human wisdom, and God’s weakness will always be stronger than mere human strength.
The cross challenges human values because no one expects to find freedom through capital punishment. Unlike most of the thousands who faced crucifixion before and after Jesus, He was clearly not a criminal. God uses this contradiction to reveal His power and wisdom: Jesus has offered Himself to death and has been raised to life to bring liberation to others. Those who truly follow this crucified king do not seek power and authority through the normal patterns of the world; they offer themselves in loving sacrifice for others. That is where God’s transforming power is truly revealed in the church.
26 Look carefully at your call, brothers and sisters. By human standards, not many of you are deemed to be wise. Not many are considered powerful. Not many of you come from royalty, right? 27 But celebrate this: God selected the world’s foolish to bring shame upon those who think they are wise; likewise, He selected the world’s weak to bring disgrace upon those who think they are strong. 28 God selected the common and the castoff, whatever lacks status, so He could invalidate the claims of those who think those things are significant. 29 So it makes no sense for any person to boast in God’s presence. 30 Instead, credit God with your new situation: you are united with Jesus the Anointed. He is God’s wisdom for us and more. He is our righteousness and holiness and redemption. 31 As the Scripture says: “If someone wants to boast, he should boast in the Lord.”[f]