1 Corinthians 1:26–2:5: Christ and Him Crucified

by Feb 25, 20190 comments

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If the gospel seems to be folly and weakness according to the world’s standards, then how can anyone possibly believe? This is the question that Paul takes up in 1 Corinthians 1:26–2:5. First, Paul answer by insisting that God calls those whom he chooses to salvation, although Paul insists that God’s choice has nothing to do with any personal merit in those whom God chooses (1 Cor. 1:26–29). On the contrary, God’s choice humiliates the wise and the strong so that no one may boast before the Lord. Second, Paul redirects any boasting we might do on our own behalf toward boasting instead in the person of Christ Jesus—our wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30–31). Finally, Paul identifies the process by which sinners come to faith: through the human weakness of preaching and the divine power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:1–5).

By each of these logical steps, Paul rejects any inclination of our hearts toward thinking that we may be saved because of who we are or what we do. Instead, all the glory in our salvation goes to God for his great wisdom, power, and love toward sinners. Even though we did not deserve it, God sent his Son to die for us on the cross. Then, even though we were entirely blind to the message of God’s salvation, God sent his Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see the glory of Christ crucified through the least humanly plausible method possible: preaching. In all of this, from first to last, God teaches us to glory and boast in Christ crucified alone. Thus, the message of 1 Corinthians 1:26–2:5 is that God calls his people to boast in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Discussion Questions

1) In what areas are you tempted to believe that God would save you because of your personal merit before him? Your intelligence? Your willpower to do certain good things, but to avoid doing certain other bad things? Your social power and ability to influence others? Your family history? Your material resources? Your talents? Why does God refuse to save on the basis of these merits?

2) Why must we “consider our calling” (1 Cor. 1:26)? That is, why must we remember that God has saved us in spite of ourselves, not because of ourselves? What is the effect of God’s choosing to save the foolish, wise, lowly, and despised of the world (1 Cor. 1:27–28)? What is God’s purpose in doing so (1 Cor. 1:29)? How might your suffering in the world help you to boast only in Christ?

3) What is your plan and practice for boasting increasingly more in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:31)? How do you grow in your understanding of, and appreciation for, Christ as our wisdom from God, righteousness and also sanctification, and redemption? Why is prayerful, biblical worship so important for this process? What might you proactively do to continue growing in these areas?

4) What responsibility do you have to proclaim Christ and him crucified to those in your circle of influence (1 Cor. 2:1–2)? What comfort can you draw about the Apostle Paul’s own personal weaknesses and fears in his ministry (1 Cor. 2:3–4a)? What might change about your evangelism if you practically believed that the Holy Spirit alone could clinch the argument (1 Cor. 2:4b–5)?