1 Corinthians 1-4
Contemporary English Version
1 From Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from Sosthenes, who is also a follower.
2 To God’s church in Corinth. Christ Jesus chose you to be his very own people, and you worship in his name, as we and all others do who call him Lord.
3 My prayer is that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!
4 I never stop thanking my God for being kind enough to give you Christ Jesus, 5 who helps you speak and understand so well. 6 Now you are certain that everything we told you about our Lord Christ Jesus is true. 7 You are not missing out on any blessings, as you wait for him to return. 8 And until the day Christ does return, he will keep you completely innocent. 9 God can be trusted, and he chose you to be partners with his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
10 My dear friends, as a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg you to get along with each other. Don’t take sides. Always try to agree in what you think. 11 Several people from Chloe’s family[a] have already reported to me that you keep arguing with each other. 12 They have said that some of you claim to follow me, while others claim to follow Apollos or Peter[b] or Christ.
13 Has Christ been divided up? Was I nailed to a cross for you? Were you baptized in my name? 14 I thank God[c] that I didn’t baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15 Not one of you can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 I did baptize the family[d] of Stephanas, but I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else. 17 Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the good news without using big words that would make the cross of Christ lose its power.
Christ Is God’s Power and Wisdom
18 The message about the cross doesn’t make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power at work. 19 As God says in the Scriptures,
“I will destroy the wisdom
of all who claim
to be wise.
I will confuse those
who think they know
20 What happened to those wise people? What happened to those experts in the Scriptures? What happened to the ones who think they have all the answers? Didn’t God show that the wisdom of this world is foolish? 21 God was wise and decided not to let the people of this world use their wisdom to learn about him.
Instead, God chose to save only those who believe the foolish message we preach. 22 Jews ask for miracles, and Greeks want something that sounds wise. 23 But we preach that Christ was nailed to a cross. Most Jews have problems with this, and most Gentiles think it is foolish. 24 Our message is God’s power and wisdom for the Jews and the Greeks that he has chosen. 25 Even when God is foolish, he is wiser than everyone else, and even when God is weak, he is stronger than everyone else.
26 My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn’t think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families. 27 But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame.
28 What the world thinks is worthless, useless, and nothing at all is what God has used to destroy what the world considers important. 29 God did all this to keep anyone from bragging to him. 30 You are God’s children. He sent Christ Jesus to save us and to make us wise, acceptable, and holy. 31 So if you want to brag, do what the Scriptures say and brag about the Lord.
Telling about Christ and the Cross
2 Friends, when I came and told you the mystery[e] that God had shared with us, I didn’t use big words or try to sound wise. 2 In fact, while I was with you, I made up my mind to speak only about Jesus Christ, who had been nailed to a cross.
3 At first, I was weak and trembling with fear. 4 When I talked with you or preached, I didn’t try to prove anything by sounding wise. I simply let God’s Spirit show his power. 5 That way you would have faith because of God’s power and not because of human wisdom.
6 We do use wisdom when speaking to people who are mature in their faith. But it isn’t the wisdom of this world or of its rulers, who will soon disappear. 7 We speak of God’s hidden and mysterious wisdom that God decided to use for our glory long before the world began. 8 The rulers of this world didn’t know anything about this wisdom. If they had known about it, they would not have nailed the glorious Lord to a cross. 9 But it is just as the Scriptures say,
“What God has planned
for people who love him
is more than eyes have seen
or ears have heard.
It has never even
entered our minds!”
10 God’s Spirit has shown you everything. His Spirit finds out everything, even what is deep in the mind of God. 11 You are the only one who knows what is in your own mind, and God’s Spirit is the only one who knows what is in God’s mind. 12 But God has given us his Spirit. That’s why we don’t think the same way that the people of this world think. That’s also why we can recognize the blessings that God has given us.
13 Every word we speak was taught to us by God’s Spirit, not by human wisdom. And this same Spirit helps us teach spiritual things to spiritual people.[f] 14 That’s why only someone who has God’s Spirit can understand spiritual blessings. Anyone who doesn’t have God’s Spirit thinks these blessings are foolish. 15 People who are guided by the Spirit can make all kinds of judgments, but they cannot be judged by others. 16 The Scriptures ask,
“Has anyone ever known
the thoughts of the Lord
or given him advice?”
But we understand what Christ is thinking.[g]
Working Together for God
3 My friends, you are acting like the people of this world. That’s why I could not speak to you as spiritual people. You are like babies as far as your faith in Christ is concerned. 2 So I had to treat you like babies and feed you milk. You could not take solid food, and you still cannot, 3 because you are not yet spiritual. You are jealous and argue with each other. This proves that you are not spiritual and that you are acting like the people of this world.
4 Some of you say that you follow me, and others claim to follow Apollos. Isn’t that how ordinary people behave? 5 Apollos and I are merely servants who helped you to have faith. It was the Lord who made it all happen. 6 I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow. 7 What matters isn’t those who planted or watered, but God who made the plants grow. 8 The one who plants is just as important as the one who waters. And each one will be paid for what they do. 9 Apollos and I work together for God, and you are God’s garden and God’s building.
Only One Foundation
10 God was kind and let me become an expert builder. I laid a foundation on which others have built. But we must each be careful how we build, 11 because Christ is the only foundation. 12-13 Whatever we build on that foundation will be tested by fire on the day of judgment. Then everyone will find out if we have used gold, silver, and precious stones, or wood, hay, and straw. 14 We will be rewarded if our building is left standing. 15 But if it is destroyed by the fire, we will lose everything. Yet we ourselves will be saved, like someone escaping from flames.
16 All of you surely know that you are God’s temple and that his Spirit lives in you. 17 Together you are God’s holy temple, and God will destroy anyone who destroys his temple.
18 Don’t fool yourselves! If any of you think you are wise in the things of this world, you will have to become foolish before you can be truly wise. 19 This is because God considers the wisdom of this world to be foolish. It is just as the Scriptures say, “God catches the wise when they try to outsmart him.” 20 The Scriptures also say, “The Lord knows that the plans made by wise people are useless.” 21-22 So stop bragging about what anyone has done. Paul and Apollos and Peter[h] all belong to you. In fact, everything is yours, including the world, life, death, the present, and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
The Work of the Apostles
4 Think of us as servants of Christ who have been given the work of explaining God’s mysterious ways. 2 And since our first duty is to be faithful to the one we work for, 3 it doesn’t matter to me if I am judged by you or even by a court of law. In fact, I don’t judge myself. 4 I don’t know of anything against me, but that doesn’t prove that I am right. The Lord is my judge. 5 So don’t judge anyone until the Lord returns. He will show what is hidden in the dark and what is in everyone’s heart. Then God will be the one who praises each of us.
6 Friends, I have used Apollos and myself as examples to teach you the meaning of the saying, “Follow the rules.” I want you to stop saying that one of us is better than the other. 7 What is so special about you? What do you have that you were not given? And if it was given to you, how can you brag? 8 Are you already satisfied? Are you now rich? Have you become kings while we are still nobodies? I wish you were kings. Then we could have a share in your kingdom.
9 It seems to me that God has put us apostles in the worst possible place. We are like prisoners on their way to death. Angels and the people of this world just laugh at us. 10 Because of Christ we are thought of as fools, but Christ has made you wise. We are weak and hated, but you are powerful and respected. 11 Even today we go hungry and thirsty and don’t have anything to wear except rags. We are mistreated and don’t have a place to live. 12 We work hard with our own hands, and when people abuse us, we wish them well. When we suffer, we are patient. 13 When someone curses us, we answer with kind words. Until now we are thought of as nothing more than the trash and garbage of this world.
14 I am not writing to embarrass you. I want to help you, just as parents help their own dear children. 15 Ten thousand people may teach you about Christ, but I am your only father. You became my children when I told you about Christ Jesus, 16 and I want you to be like me. 17 That’s why I sent Timothy to you. I love him like a son, and he is a faithful servant of the Lord. Timothy will tell you what I do to follow Christ and how it agrees with what I always teach about Christ in every church.
18 Some of you think I am not coming for a visit, and so you are bragging. 19 But if the Lord lets me come, I will soon be there. Then I will find out if the ones who are doing all this bragging really have any power. 20 God’s kingdom isn’t just a lot of words. It is power. 21 What do you want me to do when I arrive? Do you want me to be hard on you or to be kind and gentle?
- 1.11 family: Family members and possibly slaves and others who may have lived in the house.
- 1.12 Peter: The Greek text has “Cephas,” which is an Aramaic name meaning “rock.” Peter is the Greek name with the same meaning.
- 1.14 I thank God: Some manuscripts have “I thank my God.”
- 1.16 family: See the note at 1.11.
- 2.1 mystery: Some manuscripts have “testimony.”
- 2.13 teach spiritual things to spiritual people: Or “compare spiritual things with spiritual things.”
- 2.16 we understand what Christ is thinking: Or “we think as Christ does.”
- 3.21,22 Peter: See the note at 1.12.