It’s day 6 of the 30 Days of Paul Reading Challenge and today we start Paul’s first letter to the followers of The Way of Jesus in Corinth. Today’s readings are the first two chapters.
As we’ve seen before, Paul has the soon return of Jesus clearly in his mind (1.7-8). And, I’m not sure if I’ve ever tied these things together before but this view must have influenced not only Paul’s own life, but his mission as well. That could help explain why he was constantly on the move — trying to fulfill Matthew 10.16-23.
The first part of this letter is about divisions within these followers. They were separating themselves into these cliques based on who baptized them and looking down on the people in the other groups. Paul’s adamant that this isn’t the way, insisting that everyone’s in Christ (1.10-17).
The remainder of this chapter, 1.18ff, is about how G‑d does things. Society picks the prettiest, the brightest, the most qualified to do the thing. But, here, Paul states that G‑d chooses the ugliest, the dimmest, and the least qualified to do the thing. So, in a backhanded kind of way, Paul’s saying that the Corinthian followers of Jesus aren’t that bright! In fact, he comes right out and says so, “By ordinary human standards not many were wise, not many were powerful, not many were from the upper class” (1.26). Ouch!
The point of this is so that people won’t think more highly of themselves than they should; that’s they’re something special. But, being plain, ordinary folk? They have a tendency to be more humble. They know that what’s happening through them is actually from G‑d (1.26ff). Paul even says this of himself in the next chapter. He states that he didn’t come with human wisdom and arguments so that it could be said Paul won the day by his logic. Instead he states that he was “weak, fearful, and trembling” (2.1-5). It was G‑d’s power working through Paul’s weakness that the Corinthian followers were drawn to.
In closing of chapter 2, we have one of the most misused verses in the Bible, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (2.9; NKJV*). And since I’ve addressed this before, I won’t go into detail here. Needlesstosay, Paul doesn’t stop there. He states that what was once hidden had already been revealed, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (2.10; NKJV). And that hidden thing was G‑d rescuing all of humanity, not just the Jews. He told them that the reason people don’t get what G‑d’s doing — they aren’t spiritual: “[People] who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They’re foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way” (2.14).
And that gives me pause. Is the reason I don’t see what G‑d’s doing is because I’m “unspiritual”? Is G‑d doing things in other traditions, perhaps even non-christian traditions or non-traditions, and I’m not understanding it because “they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way”?
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
* Scriptures marked NKJV taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.