Lectionary Year A
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 3, 2002
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Step V: Distillation
A. Summary of Salient Features
(JFC) Verse 19's Old Testament quotes seem to identify the so-called and self-designated "wise" with those perishing; they are being destroyed and their supposed intelligence is being discounted as such. God's wisdom is where it's at, according to Paul, contemporized. The prevailing consideration in this pericope is the message of the cross and that it brings the power of God to those who, equally emphasized in these verses, are being saved. And, a close second place is the differences between foolishness and wisdom, both of human and divine. Other important elements of this lection are the various differences between them, the knowing of God and the way it comes about, the power of God and what it is used to achieve and boasting in the Lord. "The theological 'center of gravity' in this text" is "Christ crucified" who gets proclaimed here as well as elsewhere, of course. Minor concerns here include strength and weakness, Jews and Greeks and their requests, human standards and lowly and despised people, they seem to be merely examples to solidify the main argument of the passage. Their lowliness and being despised might be exaggerations for Paul to make his points to the recipients of this Epistle.
B. Smoother Translation
(JFC) 18 The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us being saved it is the power
of God. 19 For it is written,
I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
And the intelligence of the intelligent I will reject.
20 Where (are the) wise? Where (the) scholar/scribe? Where (is the) debater of this present life/age? Has not God made to
be foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world never knew through the wisdom the God,
rather God was pleased through the foolishness of the proclamation to save/deliver the believing ones; 22 since furthermore
Jews request signs and Greeks require/demand/ask for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews on the one
hand an object/causing stumbling, but to the unbelievers/non-Jews/Gentiles it is foolishness, 24 yett to us who are called, both
Jews and Greeks, it is the power Christ of God and the wisdom of God; 25 because the foolishness of God is wiser than that
of men and the weakness of God is stronger than that of men.
26 Now consider your call, brothers, that not many (are) wise from the human point of view, not many powerful, not many of high/noble birth; 27 but God chose the foolishness of the world so that it would disgrace the (self-supposed and self-designated and so-called) wise, and God also chose the weak of the world, so that it would put to shame the strong, 28 and God furthermore chose the inferior/insignificant of the world and the despised, too, so that (what was) not existing, in order that the existing were nullified/destroyed/rendered ineffective, 29 so that no one should boast in the presence of God. 30 But from Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom to you from God, righteousness also and holiness and deliverance, too. 31 That just as it is written, "Those boasting should certainly boast (imperative) in the Lord."
C. Hermeneutical Bridge
(JFC) Hans Conzelmann, in Hermenia, states, ". . . one becomes sw|zome,noij by attaining to the knowledge that the word of the cross is dunamij Qeou, . . . which word issues in freedom to believe even if we don't will to do so, as it brings about faith . . . That 'we' are saved is a believing insight which exists in the hearing of the word . . . with hmin, 'to us', Paul embraces all Christians regardless of their groupings: theologically speaking, they are saved and there is no more to be said. . ."
And, in the ICC, we read, ". . . 'to those who are in the course of being saved' or more so, salvation is the certain result of a certain relationship with God, which relation is a thing of the present . . . This relation had a beginning (Romans 8:24), is a fact now (Ephesians 2:5 and 8), and characterizes our present state (Acts 2:47); but its inalienable confirmation belongs to the final adoption or avpolu,trwsij (Romans 8:23 and Ephesians 4:30) . . ." Also, in the Expositors Greek Testament, we find these words, "The rejecters of the word of the cross are perishing while the receivers of it are being saved . . . In the language of the New Testament salvation is a thing of the past, the present and the future . . ."
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