Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 Corinthians 1:31 1
31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the LORD.”

Background

A glance at the map will show that Corinth was made for greatness. The southern part of Greece is very nearly an island. On the west the Corinthian Gulf deeply indents the land and on the east the Saronic Gulf. All that is left to join the two parts of Greece together is a little isthmus only four miles across. On that narrow neck of land is where Corinth stands. That location and circomstance made  Cornith one of the greatest trading and commercial centers of the ancient world. All traffic from Athens and the north of Greece to Sparta and the Peloponnese had to be routed through Corinth, because it stood on the little neck of land that connected the two.

Not only did the north to south traffic of Greece pass through Corinth of necessity, by far the greater part of the east to west traffic of the Mediterranean passed through her by choice. The extreme southern tip of Greece was known as Cape Malea (now called Cape Matapan). It was dangerous, and to round Cape Malea had much the same sound as to round Cape Horn had in later times. The consequence was that mariners followed one of two courses. They sailed up the Saronic Gulf, and, if their ships were small enough, dragged them out of the water, set them on rollers, hauled them across the isthmus, and re-launched them on the other side. If that course was not possible because the ship was too large, the cargo was disembarked, carried by porters across the isthmus, and re-embarked on another ship at the other side. This four mile journey across the isthmus, where the Corinth Canal now runs, saved a journey of two hundred and two miles round Cape Malea, the most dangerous cape in the Mediterranean.

Corinth is remembered for wealth and luxury, for drunkenness and immorality and vice, and then read 1 Cor.6:9-10. Paul stayed longer in Corinth than in any other city, with the single exception of Ephesus. News came to Paul from various sources of trouble at Corinth. Here we see Paul, the shepherd of his flock, bearing the sorrows and the problems of his people on his heart. The church was struggling and Paul was giving advice. One might conclude that churches today can learn a lot from Paul.

Verse 31

The message  from the Apostle Paul to both the church at Corinth and today’s Christians is simple: Christianity and its message of salvation is based on the death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Capitalism, globalism, and now technology, coupled with a media-filled world present us with ever changing challenges to our Christian faith. While we may see faith and salvation in context to Christ’s death on the cross, dying on a cross may never make sense to a world that cannot find the benefits from such a death. Paul is always trying to teach that through a suffering God, the world was redeemed and humanity was given hope of eternity.

While people are still hungry for the word of God and a desire to have an encounter with the risen Lord, our 21st-century churches often struggle to fill the soul.  Preachers must preach and teach theologies and spiritualties that help people to grow in their understanding and the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection. Today, this is complicated by the need to use unfamiliar, new technologies and distance learning techniques. The proclamation of Christ’s death and resurrection is still the basic message to be heard in the midst of people who are living in today’s new challenges. It is times like now that Christian faith is in need of a great revival.

Paul picks on the notion of God’s call on people’s lives by reminding them that God calls people who do not align themselves with the wisdom of the world. The turning of the world from the ideal to the abnormal is fascinating because God calls and works through the weak members of the society (verses 26-28) to preach to the world. In some way, the ones who have been called to serve God must be open to the leading and guidance of the Trinity and do things that seem counter cultural in our world today, like bragging about the Lord and not about themselves.

Paul continues to argue that being divided among ourselves, denies the gospel of Christ to the world. While technology may direct us to teachers and preachers who command worldly power, there are dangers that can limit wisdom by the consolidation of ideas to a few people or methods. God’s wisdom and power will always outpace His human counterparts that may be defining themselves as wise and powerful.

What, then, is power in today’s world? It is God, by God’s own doing, uniting people to Christ (verses 27-30). These are the lead in verses to our Scripture passage for this week. Christ is the wisdom and power (verse 30). Union with the crucified Christ, then, is to play out in all aspects of the church’s life. So now let’s go to our study verse 31.

Once we come to the realization that Christ is the substance of everything we could ever want, the wind is taken away out from the sails of any argument that would draw us to specific people and churches. We are not to boast of successful earthly leaders, we are boast only in the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 31). The path for us is not to strive in being good orators, pastors, teachers or even church members. Paul is encouraging all Christians to function under the Holy Spirit, whose power enables an authentic proclamation of the gospel.

William Barclay, a most famous theologian focus’s our attention on these four great things which Paul insists Christ is for us.

  • He is wisdom. It is only in following Him that we walk right and only in listening to Him do we hear the truth. He is the expert in life.
  • He is righteousness. In the writings of Paul, righteousness always means a right relationship with God. Through our own efforts we can never achieve that. It is ours only by realizing through Jesus Christ that our relationship with God exists because of what He has done for us.
  • He is consecration. It is only in the presence of Christ that life can be what it ought to be. There is no “as if” about our relationship to Christ. The Christian walks with Him and only in that company can anyone keep their clothing unspotted from the world.
  • He is deliverance. Who but Jesus Christ can deliver a man from past sin, from their present helplessness, and from future fear. Jesus  is the emancipator from slavery to ourselves, from COVID-19 and even from all sin.

Items for Discussion

  • Where are the areas in a church that point us to Christ?
  • Which areas might not point to Christ but, instead, to people or groups?
  • How would you measure whether a church has its mission, its goals properly focused?  What would your metrics be?
  • How is our community like Corinth? How are we different?
  • Why is the cross foolishness to some?
  • How does the Cross destroy the “wisdom” of men?
  • What in your church makes you want to have Christ’s life more than the world’s life?
  • What are your favorite methods of keeping focused on the death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ so that your faith is strengthened?
  • What benefits do you see that come to people  when they hear you “boast in the Lord?”

Discussion Challenge

  • People like the message of the “prosperity gospel” – How might it conflict with our message from Paul?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
Share