First Corinthians 1:26-2:5
The Crucified Christ

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. In the passage of scripture given for today, I would like for us to pay particular attention to the words in chapter two and verse two. "For I have resolved not to know anything among you except for Jesus Christ, and the crucified Christ at that," (2:2). What does this resolve of Paul have to say to us right now?

So That No One Would Boast Before God

2. Just before this, the text says, "Brothers, when I came to you, I didn't think of superior words and wisdom even though I was preaching to you the hidden plans of God," (2:1). On the one hand, the reason Paul is saying this is there had been some there who did speak with superior words and wisdom. But, superior words and wisdom are not bad in and of themselves. The problem emerges when it is tied in with human "pride." That's why, in the previous paragraph, a problem having to do with human pride was dealt with.

3. Paul exhorts the disciples at Corinth with "Remember when you were called," (1:26), and thereby points out to them that as seen from a human perspective not many of them had been people of wisdom and not many of them were people of talent or of noble ancestry. That was a fact clear to anybody. They were called just as they were and made into Christians. God had chosen them even still. What was the reason for that? Paul says it was for the purpose of humiliating those who are wise and those who are powerful and to render those with social status into powerless persons. Those are some extreme words. But, that wasn't his last point. It was that God had planned it that way so that "no one would boast before God," (1:29).

4. Well, why did he have to speak like it was so important here on [the topic of] "so that no one would boast before God?" It was not simply because pride/boasting before God is disrespect towards God and is an arrogant thing to do. In truth, an actual urgent problem had come up. Please look at chapter one and verse ten. There the admonition is given, "Everyone of you, do not say selfish things and make groups, but be one in heart, be one in mind and be tightly bound to one another." In a similar vein, from chapter one to chapter four of this book, the issue is taken up of specific discord and disagreements between themselves that had emerged in the church at Corinth. In this particular context, the plan of God "so that no one would boast before God" is spoken to them.

5. "Arguing" and "Pride." There is a close connection between them. We know that by experience, even without Paul's saying so. I'd say that the reason that different arguments and disagreements in this world between people come up and nothing ever gets solved is, in many cases, that we cling to our pride and we want to keep a higher ranking over someone else come what may.

6. But, as you know, Paul is not speaking on fussing and fighting in general. No, he isn't. He is taking up the problem of when such a thing happens in the church, when something like that happens in a community of worship, which is conscious of itself that it truly lives before God.

7. It's true, fighting takes place in the presence of God because people are proud of themselves even in God's sight. Actually, like it is taken up in this epistle, even in matters pertaining specifically to the faith life on a daily basis and in matters pertaining to worship services, people are proud of themselves even in the sight of God and would try to place themselves in a higher ranking over others. As a result, fights and arguments come up even in the presence of God. Of course, it does not only take place in the church but also, on a smaller scale, in individual Christian homes. It is a great blessing of God for many Christians to be able to make their lives together. But, it is possible that more arguments arise than in the homes of unbelievers when in the sight of God they are proud of themselves over against someone else. Regardless of the case though, with this problem before him, Paul says in this text that "it is so that no one would boast before God."

Let Whoever Boasts Boast Of The Lord

8. However, he does not only put it into a negative expression. There is something more important than not boasting. We should know what we should truly boast about. Paul says, "You are joined by God to Christ, Christ became the wisdom of God for us and he became our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. For that reason it came to be written in the scriptures, 'Let whoever boasts boast of the Lord,' (1:30-31).

9. "Let whoever boasts boast of the Lord." This is a quote from the book of Jeremiah. It is not literal but he is making a digest form of it. Originally speaking, the scripture says, "Thus, says the Lord. Wise person, do not boast of your wisdom. Powerful person, do not boast of your power. Rich person, do not boast of your riches. Rather, the one who boasts should boast of this, that one knows me and is alert to that. I am the Lord indeed. I am pleased that I do it, I do works of mercy, justice, and grace in this land, says the Lord," (Jeremiah 9:22-23). So, when we boast of the Lord, we are to boast that we know the Lord.

10. But, this matter of "boasting of knowing the Lord," if taken in the wrong direction, will be connected to religious haughtiness and arrogance. In fact, some in Corinth regarded themselves as persons who had attained unto a special religious knowledge, and called themselves 'men of the Spirit.' However, knowing the Lord in a true sense does not turn one into a religious elite on some higher level than others. - Because knowing the Lord means the same as to know "the Christ who became the wisdom of God and who became righteousness, holiness, and redemption for us," and to know "the crucified Christ," who was crucified that we might be righteous, holy, and redeemed.

11. Righteousness, holiness, and redemption. All of these are related to the fact that we are sinners. Christ became our righteousness. He did that because we are sinners. Being joined to Christ is but the same thing as we sinners when we receive the righteous of Christ. Thus, we, sinners that we are, were made righteous because of Christ and we are let into a just relationship with God. Also, Christ became our holiness. He did that because we are sinners. Being joined to Christ is the same as we sinners when we are made holy. We sinners are joined into Christ, are God's, we belong to God, and can live as the people of God. And also, Christ became our redemption. He did that because we were by nature slaves of sin and death. Christ paid the price for us, and loosed us from the chains of sin and death. Since we are joined to Christ we are no longer set for destruction.

12. So, all of these things were fulfilled through Christ's being crucified. Paul is pointing that truth out. Jesus Christ is "the crucified Christ." Paul doesn't even make reference to the resurrection here. That's because the main thing here is how low did Christ become in order to save us? To know the Lord means to know Christ, and that is the same as knowing "the crucified Christ," the Christ who was crucified for us. It is Christ who descended all the way down to the lowest of places. In The Letter To The Philippian Disciples, this Christ is expressed in the following words: "Christ, though he is of divine standing, he did not try to insist that he was equal with God, instead he made himself nothing, he became of human standing, and became the same as humanity. He appeared in human form, humbled himself, and he obeyed unto death, even unto death on the cross at that," (Philippians 2:6).

13. To know Christ is to know the Christ who was crucified in that such a manner. As the cross lies in the lowest place, we do not encounter Christ in the high places. As long as we try to put ourselves in a position higher than others, we cannot know the crucified Christ. When we put self high up, the crucified Christ is no longer there [with us].

14. Thus, Paul speaks here of his own weakness and his own low estate in the work of preaching. That was the figure of Paul whom the Corinthians had encountered. He states that "When I came to you, I was weak, stricken with fear, and terribly nervous," (2:3). It is the weak and miserable figure of Paul that the text is speaking about here. It is far from the image of Paul the great evangelist. But, indeed the Paul we have here is a Paul who "resolved in his heart that he would know nothing except the crucified Christ," and he is the Paul who had been with the crucified Christ.

15. And, indeed, the crucified Christ was proclaimed by Paul. That was how the Corinthian church was born. Paul expresses this fact in the following way: "Neither my words, nor my preaching came as words filled with wisdom, but they came according to a 'spiritual' and powerful testimony. That was so that you would believe according to the power of God and not according to the wisdom of man," (2:4-5). Yes, indeed. That was how the Christians at Corinth through the power of God as displayed in the lowliness and the weakness of humankind had believed in Christ. Because the power of God is truly that kind of power, they had believed in the crucified Christ through that power. Paul was trying to remind them of that truth.

16. We, too, must not forget that we are coming to assemble here as believers in the crucified Christ or as persons invited to believe in him. How would things be if we were to visually imagine Christ's and our positions? Christ would not be in a position high at the top of the cone. Christ is at the bottom most part, the very bottom, you might say, with the cone turned upside down; for, he is the crucified Christ. That being the case, we who are under Christ turn everything all to pieces, if we make a run for the different high places we could go to. If we head for the lowly Christ at the low places, we will be made one with him.

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