Lectionary Year A
January 27, 2002
1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) "The theological 'center of gravity' in this text" is, perhaps, the message of the cross. It brings God's power to those who are being saved. However, aren't all persons among those who are being saved? Didn't Christ die for all people (Mark 10:45. when it is translated accurately instead of the ways English translations translate it)? Other major concerns in this passage are the authority of Jesus Christ, the urgency with which Paul expresses these admonitions and the unity/agreement they advise. Minor concerns include Cloe, the whole question of Baptisms by Paul, the preaching of the gospel without clever speaking and the foolishness of the cross for the perishing.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 10 I now urge you, brothers and sisters, through the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you would/might maintain everything and not be in divisions, but be restored in the same mind and in the same purpose. 11 For it has been indicated to me concerning you, brothers and sisters of mine, by Cloe that quarrels among you do exist. 12 But I mean this, that each of you says, "I on the one hand am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or even, "I am of Christ." 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you or in the name of Paul were you baptized? 14 I thank God that no one of you did I baptize except Crispus and Gaius, 15 in order that no one could say that in my name you were baptized. 16 But I did baptize also the Stepahanos household, otherwise I do not know whether I baptized anyone additionally. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach, not in wisdom of things said, so that not would diminish the meaning of the cross of Christ. 18 For the message of the cross to those who are perishing is mere foolishness, but to those of us being saved it is the very power of God.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) To receive with anything even approaching clarity and to begin developing anything even resembling understanding of the message of the cross, we have to get much more clarity than we usually get from reading and/or hearing a scripture lesson read. We need to contemplate it, meditate on it, ponder it, especially how we relate to it and how God relates with us through it. A contemporary of ours (born 1913, U. S. author, Elizabeth Janeway, writes, "I admire people who are suited to the contemplative life . . . They can sit inside themselves like honey in a jar and just be. It's wonderful to have someone like that around, you always feel you can count on them. You can go away and come back, you can change your mind, your hairdo and your politics, and when you get through doing all those upsetting things, you look and there they are, just the way they were, just being." When "just being" means "being one who is affected by the message of the cross", then this statement might be getting at some of what Paul is on about in these lines of this week's lection. Of course, some of Thomas Merton's and/or Henri Nouwen's essays would get at the same discipline, as well.

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