John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. Paul, called to be an apostle - There is great propriety in every clause of the salutation, particularly in this, as there were some in the church of Corinth who called the authority of his mission in question. Through the will of God -Called "the commandment of God," 1 Timothy 1:1 This was to the churches the ground of his authority; to Paul himself, of an humble and ready mind. By the mention of God, the authority of man is excluded, Galatians 1:1; by the mention of the will of God, the merit of Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:8, &c. And Sosthenes - A Corinthian, St. Paul's companion in travel. It was both humility and prudence in the apostle, thus to join his name with his own, in an epistle wherein he was to reprove so many irregularities. Sosthenes the brother - Probably this word is emphatical; as if he had said, Who, from a Jewish opposer of the gospel, became a faithful brother.
Verse 2. To the church of God which is in Corinth - St. Paul, writing in a familiar manner to the Corinthians, as also to the Thessalonians and Galatians, uses this plain appellation. To the other churches he uses a more solemn address. Sanctified through Jesus Christ - And so undoubtedly they were in general, notwithstanding some exceptions. Called - Of Jesus Christ, Romans 1:6 And - As the fruit of that calling made holy. With all that in every place - Nothing could better suit that catholic love which St. Paul labours to promote in this epistle, than such a declaration of his good wishes for every true Christian upon earth. Call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - This plainly implies that all Christians pray to Christ, as well as to the Father through him.
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Verse 4. Always - Whenever I mention you to God in prayer.
Verse 5. In all utterance and knowledge - Of divine things. These gifts the Corinthians particularly admired. Therefore this congratulation naturally tended to soften their spirits, and I make way for the reproofs which follow.
Verse 6. The testimony of Christ - The gospel. Was confirmed among you - By these gifts attending it. They knew they had received these by the hand of Paul: and this consideration was highly proper, to revive in them their former reverence and affection for their spiritual father.
Verse 7. Waiting - With earnest desire. For the glorious revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ - A sure mark of a true or false Christian, to long for, or dread, this revelation.
Verse 8. Who will also - if you faithfully apply to him. Confirm you to the end. In the day of Christ - Now it is our day, wherein we are to work out our salvation; then it will be eminently the day of Christ, and of his glory in the saints.
Verse 9. God is faithful - To all his promises; and therefore "to him that hath shall be given." By whom ye are called - A pledge of his willingness to save you unto the uttermost.
Verse 10. Now I exhort you - Ye have faith and hope; secure love also. By the endearing name of our Lord Jesus Christ -lnfinitely preferable to all the human names in which ye glory. That ye all speak the same thing - They now spoke different things, 1 Corinthians 1:12 And that there be no schisms among you - No alienation of affection from each other. Is this word ever taken in any other sense in scripture? But that ye be joined in the same mind -Affections, desires. And judgment - Touching all the grand truths of the gospel.
Verse 11. It hath been declared to me by them of the family of Chloe -Whom some suppose to have been the wife of Stephanas, and the mother of Fortunatus and Achaicus. By these three the Corinthians had sent their letter to St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 16:17. That there are contentions - A word equivalent with schisms in the preceding verse.
Verse 12. Now this I say - That is, what I mean is this: there are various parties among you, who set themselves, one against an other, in behalf of the several teachers they admire. And I of Christ - They spoke well, if they had not on this pretence despised their teachers, 1 Corinthians 4:8 Perhaps they valued themselves on having heard Christ preach in his own person.
Verse 13. Is Christ divided - Are not all the members still under one head? Was not he alone crucified for you all; and were ye not all baptized in his name? The glory of Christ then is not to be divided between him and his servants; neither is the unity of the body to be torn asunder, seeing Christ is one still.
Verse 14. I thank God - (A pious phrase for the common one, "I rejoice,") that, in the course of his providence, I baptized none of you, but Crispus, once the ruler of the synagogue, and Caius.
Verse 15. Lest any should say that I had baptized in my own name - In order to attach them to myself.
Verse 16. I know not - That is, it does not at present occur to my memory, that I baptized any other.
Verse 17. For God did not send me to baptize - That was not my chief errand: those of inferior rank and abilities could do it: though all the apostles were sent to baptize also, Matthew 28:19 But to preach the gospel - So the apostle slides into his general proposition: but not with wisdom of speech - With the artificial ornaments of discourse, invented by human wisdom. Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect - The whole effect of St. Paul's preaching was owing to the power of God accompanying the plain declaration of that great truth, "Christ bore our sins upon the cross." But this effect might have been imputed to another cause, had he come with that wisdom of speech which they admired.
Verse 18. To them that perish - By obstinately rejecting the only name whereby they can be saved. But to us who are saved -Now saved from our sins, and in the way to everlasting salvation, it is the great instrument of the power of God.
Verse 19. For it is written - And the words are remarkably applicable to this great event. Isaiah 29:14
Verse 20. Where is the wise? &c.-The deliverance of Judea from Sennacherib is what Isaiah refers to in these words; in a bold and beautiful allusion to which, the apostle in the clause that follows triumphs over all the opposition of human wisdom to the victorious gospel of Christ. What could the wise men of the gentiles do against this? or the Jewish scribes? or the disputers of this world? - Those among both, who, proud of their acuteness, were fond of controversy, and thought they could confute all opponents. Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world - That is, shown it to be very foolishness. Isaiah 33:18
Verse 21. For since in the wisdom of God - According to his wise disposals, leaving them to make the trial. The world -Whether Jewish or gentile, by all its boasted wisdom knew not God - Though the whole creation declared its Creator, and though he declared himself by all the prophets; it pleased God, by a way which those who perish count mere foolishness, to save them that believe.
Verse 22. For whereas the Jews demand of the apostles, as they did of their Lord, more signs still, after all they have seen already; and the Greeks, or gentiles, seek wisdom -The depths of philosophy, and the charms of eloquence.
Verse 23. We go on to preach, in a plain and historical, not rhetorical or philosophical, manner, Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumblingblock - Just opposite to the "signs" they demand. And to the Greeks foolishness - A silly tale, just opposite to the wisdom they seek.
Verse 24. But to them that are called - And obey the heavenly calling. Christ - With his cross, his death, his life, his kingdom. And they experience, first, that he is the power, then, that he is the wisdom, of God.
Verse 25. Because the foolishness of God - The gospel scheme, which the world judge to be mere foolishness, is wiser than the wisdom of men; and, weak as they account it, stronger than all the strength of men.
Verse 26. Behold your calling - What manner of men they are whom God calls. That not many wise men after the flesh - In the account of the world. Not many mighty - Men of power and authority.
Verse 28. Things that are not - The Jews frequently called the gentiles, "Them that are not," 2 Esdras vi. 56, 57. In so supreme contempt did they hold them. The things that are - In high esteem.
Verse 29. That no flesh - A fit appellation. Flesh is fair, but withering as grass. May glory before God - In God we ought to glory.
Verse 30. Of him - Out of his free grace and mercy. Are ye Engrafted into Christ Jesus, who is made unto us that believe wisdom, who were before utterly foolish and ignorant. Righteousness - The sole ground of our justification, who were before under the wrath and curse of God. Sanctification - A principle of universal holiness, whereas before we were altogether dead in sin. And redemption - That is, complete deliverance from all evil, and eternal bliss both of soul and body.
Verse 31. Let him glory in the Lord - Not in himself, not in the flesh, not in the world. Jeremiah 9:23,24