1 Corinthians Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. From: Sha’ul, called by God’s will to be an emissary of the Messiah Yeshua; and from brother Sosthenes.
Sha'ul (Paul, Ac 13:9&N) founded the Messianic community of Corinth (Ac 18:1-18). He refers to an earlier letter (5:9), but this is the first of the two lhat are extant. He wrote it in the mid-50's C.E., both because of reports he had received (1:10-12, 5:1. 11:18) and questions the Corinthians had raised (7:1, 8:1). While at least one problem in this community was doctrinal (Chapter 15), most concerned attitudes and behavior.
Here is an outline of this letter:
1:1-9 Greeting. Thanksgiving.
1:10-6:20 I Reported disorders.
1:10-4:21 A. Spirit of divisiveness..
5:1-13, 6:12-20 B. Sexual misbehavior.
6:1-11 С. Appeals to pagan law courts.
7:1-15:58 II Problems raised by the Corinthians.
7:1-40 A. Celibacy, Marriage, Divorce.
8:1 - 11:1 B. Food sacrificed to idols — used to teach self-control and consideration for others. Rights of emissaries and self-control (9:1-18). Evangelism and empathy (an aspect of self-control) (9:19-23).
11:2-14:40 C. Disorders in public worship.
11:2-16 1. Veiling of women in public worship.
11:17-34 2. Disorder at Ihe Lord's Supper (Communion, Eucharist, Mass).
11:2-16 3. Charismatic gifts from the Holy Spirit and their use in public. Love, the "better way" (12:31-14:1a).
15:1-58 D. Resurrection of the dead.
16:1-20 Conclusion. Organizing the charitable collection. Greetings.
I was called by God's will and did not achieve my office through my own efforts (Ac 7:57-8:3. 9:3-31, 22:3-21).
,br> Brother Sosthenes, perhaps successor to Crispus (v. 14) as president of the synagogue in Corinth (Ac 18:8, 17). Formerly a vehement opponent of Sha'ul and his Gospel, he grew so close to him as to be his partner in writing this letter, so that those in Corinth who deprecated Sha'ul's authority (Chapters 4 and 9, 2 Corinthians 10-12) might at least respect a prominent fellow-Corinthian. Sha'ul himself is an even better example of a virulent adversary who became a strong supporter of Yeshua.
2. To: God’s Messianic community in Corinth, consisting of those who have been set apart by Yeshua the Messiah and called to be God’s holy people — along with everyone everywhere who calls on the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, their Lord as well as ours:
Everyone everywhere. This refutes the view that Sha'ill's letters, since they were written to specific congregations with specific problems, are not normative for us. However, the manner in which they are normative depends on right interpretation.
3. Grace to you and shalom from God our Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
See Ro 1:7N.
4. I thank my God always for you because of God’s love and kindness given to you through the Messiah Yeshua,
5. in that you have been enriched by him in so many ways, particularly in power of speech and depth of knowledge.
6. Indeed, the testimony about the Messiah has become firmly established in you;
7. so that you are not lacking any spiritual gift and are eagerly awaiting the revealing of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
8. He will enable you to hold out until the end and thus be blameless on the Day of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah —
9. God is trustworthy: it was he who called you into fellowship with his Son, Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord.
Before dispensing advice that could antagonize some of his readers, Shu' ul establishes a basis of trust by expressing his underlying confidence in the Corinthians.
10. Nevertheless, brothers, I call on you in the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to agree, all of you, in what you say, and not to let yourselves remain split into factions but be restored to having a common mind and a common purpose.
11. For some of Chloe’s people have made it known to me, my brothers, that there are quarrels among you.
Factions. The Corinthian leaders wrote asking certain questions (7:1) but said nothing of this much more important matter, schisms rending the community asunder. Rather, it took some of Chloe's people to make this known to Sha'ul. The implication is that the leaders should have reported it themselves.
12. I say this because one of you says, “I follow Sha’ul”; another says, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Kefa”; while still another says, “I follow the Messiah!”
I follow Sha'ul... Apollos... Kefa. The Gospel has been perverted into a cult of personality; but loyalty to leaders, thinkers or denominations must not supersede loyalty to the Messiah. Yet "I follow the Messiah" is no better a boast than the others, since it proudly disparages all teachers and, supposedly in the name of faithfulness to Yeshua, tries to justify heeding no one. Apollos was Sha'ul's successor in Corinth and an effective teacher (Ac 18:24-28). Having lived in Hellenized Alexandria, he may have offered a Greek approach similar to that of the Alexandrian non-Messianic Jew, Philo. Kefa, on the other hand, would have emphasized Jewish elements (compare Acts 10-11, Ga 2:11-16). But doctrinal differences and preferences for one person over another must not degenerate into infighting.
13. Has the Messiah been split in pieces? Was it Sha’ul who was put to death on a stake for you? Were you immersed into the name of Sha’ul?
Immersed into the name of, that is, made to partake of the quality and character of; see Mt 3:1N.
14. I thank God that I didn’t immerse any of you except Crispus and Gaius —
15. otherwise someone might say that you were indeed immersed into my name.
16. (Oh yes, I did also immerse Stephanas and his household; beyond that, I can’t remember whether I immersed anyone else.)
17. For the Messiah did not send me to immerse but to proclaim the Good News — and to do it without relying on “wisdom” that consists of mere rhetoric, so as not to rob the Messiah’s execution-stake of its power.
I didn't immerse... Oh yes, I did... I can't remember — showing that the Messiah charged Sha'ul to proclaim the Gospel (v. 17), with the act of immersing normally being done by others (Yn 4:2, Ac 10:48).
Luke writes that Crispus was "the president of the synagogue" (Ac 18:8). Three other people in the New Testament had the common name Gaius (Ac 19:29, 20:4; 3 Yn 1); this Gaius is probably the same as at Ro 16:23. Stephanas is mentioned again at 16:15, 17.
18. For the message about the execution-stake is nonsense to those in the process of being destroyed, but to us in the process of being saved it is the power of God.
19. Indeed, the Tanakh says, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent (Isaiah 29:14)
20. Where does that leave the philosopher, the Torah-teacher, or any of today’s thinkers? Hasn’t God made this world’s wisdom look pretty foolish?
21. For God’s wisdom ordained that the world, using its own wisdom, would not come to know him. Therefore God decided to use the “nonsense” of what we proclaim as his means of saving those who come to trust in it.
22. Precisely because Jews ask for signs and Greeks try to find wisdom,
Jews ask for signs of God's power as proof of Messianic profession. But Yeshua, during his time on earth, repeatedly refused to give one on demand, except for predicting his own resurrection (Mt 12:38, 16:1: Yn 2:18), so that disbelieving Jews asserted that no sign of Yeshua's messiahship had been given.
Professor David Flusser, an Orthodox Jewish scholar in Jerusalem, writes, "Until the Messiah does the works of the Messiah we cannot call him the Messiah." But Mt 11:2-6 and Yn 10:32-38, 12:37 refute this objection by showing that he did perform such works. Indeed some of his miracles were regarded in Judaism specifically as Messianic signs, such as healing a leper (Mt 8:1 -4&N) and restoring sight to a man born blind (Yochanan 9). Others seek a sign not from Yeshua directly but from those who claim to act in his name. However, a miracle is not proof that Yeshua is the Messiah, for there are demonic miracles (Mt 24:24, 2 Th 2:9, Rv 13:3-4). Nor are miracles necessary for faith (Yn 20:28); no one has to wait for a sign before trusting Yeshua the Messiah (although sometimes, in his grace, God gives one).
Greeks try to find wisdom. Sha'ul frequently uses the word "Greeks" as a synonym for "Gentiles"; but here he is probably speaking of a trait characteristic of the ancient Greeks, their desire to increase control over their surroundings through acquiring knowledge. Though useful if properly applied (the scientific advances of Western civilization are predicated upon it), the presumption that God can be contacted, sin forgiven or ultimate meaning attained through wisdom is itself an act of faith and a misplaced one at that; known as gnosticism, it is targeted in the New Testament as an enemy of the Gospel.
Today there is a recrudescence of gnosticism in what is loosely called the New Age Movement. Also there are many, both Jews and Gentiles, who hold the supposedly secular presupposition that knowledge ("this world's wisdom," v. 20) is the key to everything; to deal with their concentric layers of intellectual objection requires endless rounds of philosophical demonstration. But no amount of it suffices to bring them to trust in God and his Messiah. On the contrary, the intellectual objections will melt away once the intellect itself has been brought to obey God's truth; for God, who created the intellect, has not set it in opposition to faith (2:16&N, Ro 1:17&N).
23. we go on proclaiming a Messiah executed on a stake as a criminal! To Jews this is an obstacle, and to Greeks it is nonsense;
A Messiah executed on a stake as a criminal! (The last seven words translate Greek estavromenon, literally, "crucified." See Mt 10:38N.
To Jews this is an obstacle (or "stumbling-stone"; Greek skandalon, from which comes the English word "scandal"), because all Jewish hopes in the Messiah centered on his restoring self-rule to Israel (Ac 1:6-7&N) and bringing peace to the earth (Isaiah 2:1-5). Given such expectations, a Messiah crucified by Roman oppressors seems an insuperable obstacle. But careful reading of the Tanakh shows that the obstacle is removed by understanding that the prophets predicted an inglorious first coming of the Messiah to die for the sins of the world (Isaiah 52:11 -53:10; Zechariah 9:9,12:10) before being resurrected (Isaiah 53:10, Psalm 16:10), returning to the Father in Heaven (Psalm 110:1) and coming again in glory to fulfill these hopes (Isaiah 53:10-12).
At the same time, to Greeks it is nonsense. The entire concept of a Messiah who acts in history even to bring peace, let alone to be an atonement for sin, is foolishness to those whose gnostic "wisdom" leads them to a more abstract, pseudo-spiritual concept of God, or whose skepticism makes them deny God altogether. As noted above, many of today's Jews and Gentiles are, in this regard, "Greeks" in their thinking.
24. but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, this same Messiah is God’s power and God’s wisdom!
25. For God’s “nonsense” is wiser than humanity’s “wisdom.” And God’s “weakness” is stronger than humanity’s “strength.”
God's power, for which Jews are said to want the evidence of "signs" (vv. 22-23), is better expressed in apparent "weakness" (12:9,2C 1J:4) that proves stronger than humanity's strength.
26. Just look at yourselves, brothers — look at those whom God has called! Not many of you are wise by the world’s standards, not many wield power or boast noble birth.
Not many of you are wise,... wield power or boast noble birth. Those who consider themselves wise, powerful or well-bom often despise Chrislianity because of its humble origins; but the teachings of Yeshua lend no support to such conceit and arrogance. The Kingdom of God is for the "poor" (Lk 6:20) and the "poor in spirit" (Mt 5:3) who are willing to set aside vested economic and academic interests in order to come as little children (Mt 18:1-3). Simple people often have less mis-education to overcome and less attachment to the status quo that might raise the cost of their coming to faith (see Lk 14:26-33&N). Uniquely, Jews have a Scriptural reason not to hold the powerless in contempt. Moses told the Israelites,
"Adonai did not set his love upon you or choose you because you outnumbered other peoples, for you were the fewest of all people. Rather, it was because Adonai loved you, and because he wanted to keep the oath he had sworn to your fathers, that Adonai brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you...." (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
Nevertheless, one finds some non-Messianic Jews looking down on Messianic Judaism as attracting only Jews who are ignorant (Jcwishly or generally), emotionally unstable or economically distressed — only 'am-ha'aretz ("rabble," "hicks," literally, "people of the earth") are "taken in" by it. In answer:
(1) some Messianic Jews are wealthy, socially prominent, well-adjusted, and well-educated; a number of rabbis have come to faith (see Ac 4:13&N). More importantly,
(2) although one can find in Jewish writings some prejudice against the 'am-ha'aretz, as a whole Judaism gives little ground for making invidious comparisons with other people (see v. 31N) and no ground whatever for judging the truth of something by who believes it.
27. But God chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise; God chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the strong;
28. and God chose what the world looks down on as common or regards as nothing in order to bring to nothing what the world considers important;
29. so that no one should boast before God.
The reason God chooses the lowly is to forestall boasting about anything other than himself. Compare Ep 2:8-9.
30. It is his doing that you are united with the Messiah Yeshua. He has become wisdom for us from God, and righteousness and holiness and redemption as well!
31. Therefore — as the Tanakh says — "Let anyone who wants to boast, boast about Adonai" (Jeremiah 9:23(24))
The entire passage from which this quotation comes is worth citing, since its three false bases for boasting are precisely those of v. 26 above:
"Thus says Adonai: 'Lei not the wise man boast about his wisdom, and let not the powerful man boast about his power, and let not the rich man boast about his riches. Rather, let anyone who wants to boast, boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am Adonai who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth, because 1 take pleasure in these things,' says Adonai." (Jeremiah 9:22-23(23-24)) Also Psalm 34:3(2): "My soul will boast in Adonai; the humble shall hear of it and be glad."
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6
- chapter 7
- chapter 8
- chapter 9
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
- chapter 12
- chapter 13
- chapter 14
- chapter 15
- chapter 16