! Cor. 1:10-18

Exegetical notes


Step I Initial acquaintance

A. Comparison of translations

V. 13: RSV--Is Christ divided?; Message--Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so wecan each have a relic to call our own?

V. 17:RSV--For Christ did not send me to baptize; Message--God didn't send me out to collect a following for myself.

V. 17: RSV--and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power; Message--And he didn't send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center--Christ on the cross--be trivialized into mere words; NEB--and to do it without relying on the language of worldly wisdom, so that the fact of Christ on his cross might hasve its full weight.

V. 18: RSV--For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God; Message--The Message that points to Christ on the cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those who are on the way to salvation it makes perfect sense.; NEB--This doctrine of the cross is sheer folly for those on their way to ruin, but to us who are on the way to salvation it is the power of God.

B. Textual criticism

C. Rough translation

I beg of you brothers that the name of the Lord, ours, Jesus Christ, in the same words all, and not in the midst of you schisms, but of katertismenoi in the same mind and the same ideas...my brothers, from the Chloe ones, that...are in you.I say this, that each of you is saying, I for am Paul, I from Apollos, I from Kepha, I from Christ. Divided The Christ; from Paul crucified for you; into the name of Paul were you baptized; I give thanks (to God) that none of you I baptized but Krsipon and Gaion, but that not in the name of me you were baptized. I baptized in the Stephanas household...any did I baptize. Not for me sent to baptize but evangelize, not in wisdom words, in not the cross of Christ. The word for of the cross to the apollumenois is moria, to the stogoumenois power God is.

Step II Disposition

A. Genre--how the text says what it says

This is a part of a correspondence aimed at resolving a pastoral crisis from a distance. Its tone oindignation, disbelief, even sarcasm, indicate the urgency Paul feels about the issue of division in the church.

B. Personal interaction--questions and observations

What kind of unity does Paul seek? Relationship between unity and freedom of expression. No dissensions--same mind--same judgments--doesn't sound like many presbyterian congregations. Who is Chloe, and what are her people duing reporting to Paul? Is she a church leader with her own network? The quarreling seems at frist not to be about issues of substance but about personalities. How does this division compare to problems in our denomination today? Wahy might the Christ group possibly have been? Paul does not want there to be a "Paul" group either: he wants all to be in harmony as people of Christ, saved through the cross. People lining up with different "gurus". What is Paul's preaching like--devoid of worldly wisdom? How did he understand himself as having been sent by Christ? How does "eloquence" empty the crosas of its power? How do we describe the power of the cross/ What does the cross have to do with their divisions?

C. Organization--where the elements of B are located

1. Questions related to Corinth situation; 2. Q. related to linguistic terms (eloquence); conceptual terms: the power of the cross; 3. Paul's self-understanding, type of unity he wants; 4. Possible analogies to present day conflict.

Step III. Composition

A. Immediate context preceding/following pericope

This section is immediately preceded by a warm greeting to open the letter, in which Paul affirms his apostolic call and their call holiness in Christ--they have the Lord in common. It is followed by a section that seems to lash out at worldly wisdom or philosophizing as a basis for Christian faith, reminding them of their humble origins when they were first called.

B.Organization of the compositional whole

This pericope sets the tone for the whole letter in that Paul will be dealing with the cosequences of an unspiritual and prideful way of viewing life within the community of faith.

C. Issues of authorship

There seems little doubt that Paul is the author of this passage.

Step IV Context

A. Primitive Christianity

This pericope clues us in to the enormous challenge of maintaining an orderly Christian congregation in the rough and tumble spiritual environment of the time. Traveling missionaries, and crisscrossing each other's paths, and independent-minded leaders on the local scene, must ahev made for a chaotic rel;igious milieu.

B. OT and Judaism

C. Hellenistic

Mystrey religions, pneumatic heresies, and wild dionysiac rites all went into the mix with which Paul had to contend in the hellenistic world of Corinth.

Step V. Distillation

A. Summary of Salien Features

Paul is distressed because people are placing divisive emphasis on who baptized them, or who brought them to faith. The picture of "one new people in Christ" is being blurred by the atmosphere of division, through loss of central focus on the Chrsit crucified.

B.Smooth translation

I have a bone to pick with you, my friends, and I address you in the strength of Chrsit's commission to me. I'm pleading with: stop your dangerous warring with each other! Come together as one people. To hear Chloe's contacts tell it,you are squabbling with each other bitterly. I mean, one of you says,"I'm with Paul"; another retorts, "I'm with Apollos". Still another declares, "I'm with Cephas"; there's even a group saying, "I'm with Christ". What are you thinking? You're carving up Chrsit like a side of beef! Do you think I died on the cross for you or something? Did any one of you ever hear me solemnly intone, "I baptize you in the name of Paul? Ridiculous! Thank God I didn't do any baptizing when I was there ...except Crispus and Gaius. If I had, no doubt somebody eould right now be saying, "Hey, look at me! I was baptized by Paul! Okay, so I did baptize the Stephanases, but nobody else (I'm pretty sure). Anyway, Christ didn't tell me to come to Corinth to baptize you, he told me to come and trumpet the gospel. And he didn't want me to use a lot of high-falutin' words, which would only draw your attention away from the God's big news. I was to give it to you plain and simple, so all the sizzle would come from the cross itself, not from me.

The simple logic of the cross is gibberish to those who are going to hell, but to us whom Chrsit is rescuing, it's powerful stuff: God-power!

C. Hermeneutical bridge

This seems to be an obscure church conflict from long ago. But it reminds us that when we take our eyes off the centrality of Christ crucified, we lose our true purpose. Our unity is to be found in our common calling in Christ.

Step IV. Contemporary address

A. Description of Audience

B. Intended goals

In this address I intend to help my listeners think about the power of the cross in our lives.

C. Address