As he discusses this issue of changing the gospel message to make it more attractive to the world, Paul says let’s consider what happened when I first preached the gospel in Corinth. Let’s consider your calling. What we can learn from it? Our boast is that we belong to God — not because we were smart enough to find Him; but because He was merciful enough to find us.
In the first major section of 1Corinthians (1Corinthians 1:10-4:16), Paul discusses the factions in Corinth. Some have decided that Paul lacks wisdom in his speech. They prefer Apollos who is a much more impressive speaker. This creates 2 problems. The smaller problem is the factions themselves which Paul addresses in 1Corinthians 1:10-17. The larger problem is their foolishness that has caused them to reject Paul because they don’t think he speaks with wisdom.
Paul is not concerned that the Corinthians are rejecting him as a teacher. Paul is concerned that his message is being rejected. Paul says the Corinthians are foolish to value the style of the message over the content on the message. Making the gospel message attractive to the world means changing it so that it is no longer the gospel.
As he discusses this issue of changing the gospel message to make it more attractive to the world, Paul says let’s consider what happened when I first preached the gospel to you in Corinth. Let’s consider your calling, and what we can learn from it.
1:26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29so that no man may boast before God. 30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NASB
- Essentially Paul says, what makes you think the gospel would be attractive to the powerful, elite people? You are the ones who responded when I preached the gospel in Corinth, and you aren’t powerful and elite people.
- Paul is speaking to the temptation to accept what the “acceptable people” accept and be part of the vocal majority.
- To respond to the gospel, you have to embrace unpopular ideas like sin, your own moral failure, and the reality of God’s coming judgment.
- Paul is NOT saying those of noble birth, professional achievement or intellectual accomplishments will reject the gospel.
- Paul is saying noble birth, professional achievement or intellectual accomplishments do NOT give you an advantage in accepting the gospel.
- What characterizes those who believe is not human accomplishment, rather it is humility before God.
- When calling His people, God ignores the world’s idea of class, social standing, intellectual accomplishment, and professional glory.
- Why did God ignore our concept of worth, power and authority? So that no one may boast (1Corinthians 1:29).
- God’s method demonstrates that the natural gifts He gives us of intelligence, success, social status, worldly power, etc. mean nothing when it comes to salvation.
- Our accomplishments didn’t influence God to make Him choose us. Neither do our accomplishments help us choose God. We have nothing to boast about except what God has done for us in Christ.
- Paul quotes Jeremiah 9:23 in 1Corinthians 1:31.
- Jeremiah warns Israel that a great judgment is coming and that the wealth, power and riches they boast in will fail them in that judgment. Jeremiah tells them, if you want to boast, you should boast in the fact that you know God.
- Our only boast is that Christ saved us.
My boast is that I belong to God — not because I was smart enough to find Him; but because He was merciful enough to find me.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.